Aboriginal Health

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land we walk upon today and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of our region.

We are working to Close the Gap

Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Needs Assessment Report and the Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Needs and Action Summary.

The report presents a collation of high quality available data relevant to the health needs of Aboriginal people. This data has been integrated with insights from a variety of key stakeholders, and a review of the literature examining health service access for Aboriginal people. The report identifies health inequalities, and health needs and issues experienced by Aboriginal communities across the HNECC PHN region, and provides a solid foundation to inform and guide the planning and delivery of health services for this population. The report can be accessed from our website www.hneccphn.com.au

The Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Needs and Action Summary presents a summation of the information presented in the full report, and is attached for your viewing. In addition to outlining the identified health needs, it describes how HNECC PHN is currently working towards addressing these needs and improving access to primary health services for Aboriginal communities. It illustrates how we are working towards addressing two of the COAG health outcome goals: closing the life expectancy gap within a generation (by 2031); and halving the gap in the mortality rate for Indigenous children under five within a decade (by 2018).

Whilst a great deal of research has been undertaken to inform this work, we acknowledge that data and information gaps still exist. Of note is the lack of current, available and accessible localised data.  Assessing need is a dynamic process, and as such these documents will be continually built upon over time as new and/or evolving information and data emerges. To support this, further work will be undertaken by HNECC PHN including: ongoing targeted and focussed community and clinician consultation; support in the sharing of key information and data across health organisations; and ongoing review of the current capacity of the primary health care system to address the need, including gaps in programs and services and opportunities to improve coordination and collaboration and the responsiveness of care.

Feedback on these documents is welcomed. We are particularly interested in any health needs, issues and/or barriers for the HNECC Aboriginal community that have not been captured in these reports and any omitted data sources that could be included to further build upon and support this work. Please provide any feedback via healthplanning@hneccphn.com.au

Click here to access the summary and  here to access the full reports

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers

The role of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers (ATSIHWs) is crucial to improving health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They play a vital role in the primary health care workforce, providing clinical and primary care for individuals, families and community groups.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers across Australia work in a variety of environments. While a large majority are employed in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) or the Government Health Sector, many also work within mainstream services such as general practices and other non-government organisations.

The Certificate IV in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Care (Practice) is the qualification for registration as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner.

HNECCPHN is developing a pilot project to increase the integration of Aboriginal Health Practitioners (AHPs) into mainstream General Practice. To date mainstream General Practice in the HNECC PHN area has had limited access to AHPs and therefore the provision of culturally safe primary health services for the local Aboriginal community has been limited.

This project will pilot in the HNECC PHN area the integration of the Aboriginal Health Practitioner role into mainstream general practice with the key outcome of:

• Increase the number and choice of primary health care services available to Aboriginal communities
• Increase the proportion of general practices that provide a culturally safe service
• Open another career pathway to graduating AHPs
• Increase the numbers of Aboriginal people in the health workforce
• Improve practice viability through appropriate service provision to under-serviced, high need Aboriginal communities

The pilot will:

1. Provide promotion and support to encourage Aboriginal students to enrol and complete appropriate recognised training.
2. Support students through to clinical placement to gain full qualifications
3. Promote the availability and benefits of AHPs throughout the HNECC network.

For more information and to register an interest in the program please contact John Manton on jmanton@hneccphn.com.au


Role of primary healthcare

'While Aboriginal community controlled health services (ACCHSs) play a vital role in Aboriginal health, it is estimated that 60% of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders access health care elsewhere. Mainstream general practice therefore has an important role in ensuring better service provision, including improved HA (health assessment) uptake' (Kehoe, H., Lovett, R. W. (2008). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessments - barriers to improving uptake. Australian Family Physician, 37(12), p. 1033).

Closing the Gap - Improving Indigenous Access to Mainstream Primary Care Program

In December 2007, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to a partnership between all levels of government to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to close the gap on Indigenous disadvantage.

The Closing the Gap - Improving Indigenous Access to Mainstream Primary Care Program is one component of this work. Intended outcomes include:

• an increase in the overall health of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population;
• improved access to culturally sensitive primary care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; and,
• improved management of chronic conditions experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Care Coordination and Supplementary Services

The Care Coordination and Supplementary Services (CCSS) program is one of the measures under the Closing the Gap scheme aimed at improving chronic disease management in Aboriginal patients.

The program has two main components:

1. Care coordination provided by qualified healthcare workers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with a chronic disease. Patients must be referred by their GP

2. Supplementary Services. There is a flexible pool of funds that can be used to assist patients receiving care coordination under the CCSS Program. The funds can be used to access medical specialist and allied health services that are in accordance with the patient's care plan. The funds may also be used to assist with the cost of local transport to healthcare appointments.

PBS Co-payment measure

The PBS Co-Payment measure enables Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have, or are at risk of, a chronic disease to access medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) at reduced or no cost.To access these medicines at low or no cost, patients need to register with a medical practice that is registered for the Practice Incentive Payment (PIP) Indigenous Health Incentive. Scripts need to be annotated by the medical practitioner as CTG.

For more information call the PBS Co Payment Hotline: 02 6289 2409.

Practice Incentive Payment (PIP) Indigenous Health Incentive

The Government is providing payments through the PIP Indigenous Health Incentive (IHI) to support general practices and Indigenous health services to provide better health care for Indigenous Australians.

This includes best practice management of chronic disease. The GP Resource Kit & Practice Detail Cards provide information on components of the Indigenous Chronic Disease Package that the GP and primary health care team can use to support patients through preventative health activities and better chronic disease management.

There are incentive payments for practices that register for the PIP IHI. To be eligible for the PIP IHI, general practices must be accredited, or registered for accreditation, and participating in the Practice Incentive Program.

Cultural awareness training: Two practice staff, one of whom must be a GP, need to undertake approved cultural awareness training within one year of registering for the PIP IHI.


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