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2010-11 AMA Indigenous Health Report Card - Summary - "Best Practice in Primary Health Care for Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islanders"

The reform of Australia's primary health care system has paid scant attention to the health of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders. The 2010-11 AMA Indigenous Health Report Card identifies the barriers that Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders experience in accessing high quality primary health care, and makes a series of recommendations on how these barriers can be removed through collaboration and integration between services and health sectors. The AMA believes that the health of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strair Islanders is everyone's responsibility.

13 May 2011

The AMA launched the 2010-11 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Report Card – Best Practice in Primary Health Care for Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islanders – in Melbourne on May 13, 2011.

This Report Card summarises the AMA’s investigation of the latest data and evidence on the barriers experienced by Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders in accessing primary health care services. It describes the factors that reduce these barriers and the factors that promote high quality health and clinical outcomes for Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders. It identifies the key characteristics of best practice in primary health care for Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders.

Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders visit mainstream private general practices and local community health centres, as well as primary care services specifically for Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders, including services in the Aboriginal community-controlled sector. Addressing the health care needs of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders is the responsibility of everyone in the primary health care system.

This Report Card concludes that the following measures are fundamental to ensure best practice in primary health care for Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders:

1. Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders must play a leading role in planning their primary health care.

2. Aboriginal medical services must not be disadvantaged in any changes to primary care funding arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories.

3. Governments must ensure:

  • ongoing monitoring of service capacity needs;
  • continuity between primary care and acute care for Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders;
  • Lead Clinician Groups include doctors involved in the care of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders;
  • systematic, rather than piecemeal, access to specialist services for Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders; and
  • e-Health systems within regions to underpin continuity of care for Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders.

4. Priority must be given to building the capacity of Aboriginal community-controlled primary care services, so they can maximise their high potential for best practice.

5. Private general practices and community health centres must be further empowered to provide accessible and high quality primary care to Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders. This could involve:

  • support to routinely record Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status in patient records;
  • incentives to allow routine bulk-billing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients;
  • support for the completion of cultural safety training;
  • development of Registrar training in core competencies in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health; and
  • incentives to train and employ Aboriginal Health Workers.

6. Collaboration and integration should be supported, where appropriate, between private general practices or community health centres and Aboriginal community-controlled services to enable the sharing of cultural advice and clinical expertise.

7. Stronger support must be provided for Aboriginal Health Workers, including a commitment that some training takes place in local communities to encourage local recruitment.

8. A network of Teaching Health Centres of Excellence should be established across Australia to act as practical training and research hubs in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.  

Please click here for a full version of the 2010-11 AMA Indigenous Health Report Card - "Best Practice in Primary Health Care for Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islanders".


Published: 13 May 2011