NACCHO #VoteACCHO #Election2019 Aboriginal Health Workforce : Arresting declining Aboriginal Health Worker numbers essential to #ClosingtheGap says Karl Briscoe CEO @NATSIHWA

Growing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce will be central — indeed pivotal — to reducing Indigenous health inequities, but we appear to be falling short.

New research from the Australian National University shows that the training of new Aboriginal Health Workers is failing to keep up with population growth, and that this essential workforce is ageing.

In this piece for Croakey, study authors Karl Briscoe and Alyson Wright ask where we are going wrong, and what more can be done to address this vital question. “

Karl Briscoe, a proud Kuku Yalanji man, is CEO of NATSIHWA, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association

Alyson Wright is a Research Fellow at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health and National Centre of Indigenous Studies at the Australian National University.

NACCHO #VoteACCHO Recommendation  ” 10.Aboriginal health workforce ” to the incoming Federal Government 

  • Increased support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce and increased support for workforce for the ACCHO sector which includes the non-Indigenous health professionals on which ACCHOs rely
  • Develop an Aboriginal Employment Strategy for the ACCHS sector

Noting our NACCHO Election #VoteACCHO Website page will be launched Monday April 15

Photo Above : First NATSIHWA Members Forum of 2019 happened yesterday in Nowra. The Team was excited to see members engage in our new forum format for the first time!

In the business of improving Indigenous health, successful models of care almost always require Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers.

It is timely therefore to ask what are the opportunities for this workforce?

The recently established Joint Council for Closing the Gap and budget announcementsregarding funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research are important wins for Indigenous health.

In the midst of these developments, we need continued and increased investment to build an Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander health workforce.

Our recent analysis, published in the Australian New Zealand Journal of Public Health, demonstrated that the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers had only increased slightly over 10 years (2006-2016) from 1,009 Health Workers to 1,347 Health Workers.

This increase did not match population growth, with 221 Indigenous Health Workers per 100,000 Indigenous people in 2006 and 207 Indigenous Health Workers per 100,000 Indigenous people in 2016.

The workforce is also ageing, with increases only in age groups over 45 years. There were fewer younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers entering the workforce and there were declines in proportion of males compared to females.

Across the states, the largest increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers was in Queensland and New South Wales.

Looking at what is working in these states, particularly in terms of career progression, workforce policies and training pathways could provide useful insights to support growth in this workforce nationally, and in territories and states where the workforce growth has been declining or stagnant.

Growing our future

To improve this story, we need make real effort in addressing critical recommendations from the Australian Government’s 2011 Growing Our Future report.

We need to increase the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers. This could be done by increasing workforce opportunities and expanding the roles of Health Workers.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers should have roles across the spectrum of health care delivery from prevention (working with communities) through to acute care (emergency wards). We can start this today. Health sectors across Australia need to look towards developing pathways that build Aboriginal Health Workers in to their models of care and build the supports necessary to retain employees.

We need better data, at a national level, on both workforce and education outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers. Workforce analysis using Census data is severely restricted, we cannot track people’s career progression and it does not tell the story from training through to employment outcomes.

Unfortunately, Census is the only data source that is nationally available to capture total numbers of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker workforce (including Health Practitioner and Health Worker professions). The other national data source, Health Workforce Data, captures only a partial workforce story on the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners.

Ultimately, improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes requires a cultural component workforce, which can be achieved and strengthened through an enhanced commitment to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers.

In the whirl of big picture developments and a potential change of government, let us not lose sight of those working tirelessly at the coalface to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

For the latest Aboriginal Health Workers job opportunities check out every Wednesday

Alyson is currently based in Alice Springs, where she is working on the Mayi Kuwayu Study, and a national program evaluation of a legally assisted and culturally appropriate family meditation project.

NACCHO news alert: National Aboriginal Cultural Safety Symposium unites voices of health workers

The Minister for Indigenous Health, the Hon Warren Snowdon opened the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association – Aboriginal Cultural Safety Symposium in Alice Springs on the 25th March 2013.


Jenny Poelina, Dr. Rose Roberts, Clark Scott, Diane Wepa

The Symposium has brought together key personnel from around the country including state department executives, the federal health executives, health professionals, academic leaders and Medicare Locals to discuss the development of an Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers.

The aims the Symposium are to start the conversations around some of the Health Workforce Australia’s recommendations for the ‘Growing Our Future’ final report including:

  • increase the social and institutional awareness of the delivery of health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities;
  • increase the level of awareness, participation, partnerships and provide enlightenment in regards to a Culturally Safe health service delivery;
  • ensuring an increase in respect of the delivery of Culturally Safe health services by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers; and
  • the need to driving the change at a health service level.

International guests, Dr Rose Roberts (Canada) and Dianne Wepa (New Zealand) will be sharing their stories from an Indigenous perspective of the development and implementation of Culturally Safe principles and programs which are delivered locally.

Minister Snowdon acknowledge the Chair, Chief Executives and board of  for their involvement in conducting the Symposium and praised the role that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers provide in delivering Culturally Safe health services.

Minister Snowdon stated that in order for any change to occur, one must come to deeply understand the unique characteristics of the community in which one works, to sit with people and listen to their stories, and only then can the process of developing workable strategies be developed, which are respectful, all encompassing, directed and therefore culturally safe. The design of a Culturally Safe Framework will not only have great implications for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities of Australia, but contribute towards safety for any minority group.

Urgent info & action: 20 support packages for Aboriginal Health Workers forum AGM

We would urgently like your assistance in passing on this NACCHO COMMUNIQUE to your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers (and other networks) about our upcoming ‘NATSIHWA 2012 National Health Worker Professional Development Forum and AGM’ on 28-29 November in Melbourne.

It promises to be an exciting event with key leaders in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health speaking about crucial topics affecting our sector today.

 To assist you, there are 20 support packages available.

You can register for the packages and RSVP at www.natsihwa.org.au or via email to operations@natsihwa.org.au

NATSIHWA will also be holding the NATSIHWA Health Worker of the Year Awards Ceremony on the evening of Tuesday, 28 November.

We encourage you and your staff to nominate for the awards. Nominations can be made at:  https://www.research.net/s/NATSIHWA_Awards

 Some of the topics being discussed at the forum are:

• e-Health and the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCeHR)

• National Registration and Accreditation

• Closing the Gap initiatives

• Good practice models of Health Worker practice

• Up-skilling and training opportunities

• The implementation of recommendations resulting from the Health Workforce Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Project

• Areas of specific health and clinical focus – including drug & alcohol, men’s & women’s business, sexual health, social & emotional wellbeing

 NATSIHWA is the peak national association representing, supporting and assisting with the professional development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers. We are passionate about securing the future of our profession.

 Thanks for your assistance in getting this information out to our front-line Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers.

 Regards,

 Clarke Scott

CEO-NATSIHWA

operations@natsihwa.org.au