Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy launched

A comprehensive strategy to ensure health services are engaging more closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities has been launched by The South West Hospital and Health Service.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy 2018–2022 also aims to encourage more Indigenous residents to take up employment and leadership roles within the health service.

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South West Hospital and Health Board Chair Jim McGowan says the health service are strongly committed to improving our services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents and to delivering them in culturally appropriate ways.

“Closing the gap in health inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents is one of our four core priorities over the next four years.”

“This requires much more than the provision of clinical services, it requires us to have an understanding and respect of cultural differences and needs, and a commitment to applying this understanding.”

Mr McGowan says the South West HHS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy’s five key priorities which include promoting opportunities to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in South West HHS leadership, governance and workforce, providing safe, visible and culturally responsive person-centred care, improving local engagement and partnerships and promoting transparency and accountability for Closing the Gap.

“Our new Indigenous health strategy is our blueprint for ensuring we are all working together and in an appropriate, consultative way towards achieving our set goals.’’

“Additionally, we employ Advanced Aboriginal Health Workers in several of our facilities who support clinicians in the delivery of health services through community engagement and health promotion.’’

“Thanks in large part to their work, and the work of all our staff, about 95% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients report good or very good experiences with our health service.”

The organisation also recently also established an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership Advisory Council to provide clinical leadership, engagement and expert advice to management.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up about 13.4% of the total South West population but only 3.4% of the health service workforce identified as Indigenous.

One of the priorities within our new health strategy, is to implement and monitor strategies to grow our future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce through incentivised employment.