04 Jul 2018
This week, a landmark commitment is being launched to help achieve equity in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and other Australians to close the gap by 2031.
Launching on Thursday 5 July, the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme Statement of Intent is signed by 37 health organisations, including leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations and entities working to implement Australia’s regulation scheme for health practitioners; AHPRA, all National Boards and all accreditation authorities.
The work to develop the Statement of Intent and its associated work is being led by the National Scheme Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group and coordinated by AHPRA on behalf of the National Scheme. It has been developed in close partnership with a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and experts.
The group shares a commitment to ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have access to health services that are culturally safe and free from racism so that they can enjoy a healthy life, equal to that of other Australians, enriched by a strong living culture, dignity and justice.
To help achieve this, the group is focusing on:
The Statement of Intent is a clear direction for all 37 organisations, all of whom have an important role to play within the regulatory scheme in Australia and in health generally.
This work aims to make a difference right across the health system through the work of the National Scheme in regulating over 700,000 health practitioners across 15 professions.
National Boards set important standards that all registered health practitioners must meet to be registered. Accreditation authorities develop and monitor standards for education of health practitioners. Between us, all the signatories to the Statement of Intent commit to do our part towards closing the gap in health outcomes, which is good for all patients.
The only way to achieve equity in health outcomes is to bring cultural safety to the centre of patient care.
We know and understand the links between cultural and clinical safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ patient safety. These concepts are inextricably linked. Achieving equity in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is important for all Australians as it will address inequities that have led to a 10-year difference in life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and other Australians.
This work is an important first step. I invite other health leaders to seek the guidance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experts and make a genuine commitment to do their bit to close the gap.
Inequity is a big and important problem to tackle. Closing the gap in health outcomes can only be achieved with the collaboration and support of all parts of the health system, including the health professions. We must work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to make sure that our work is culturally appropriate, respectful and addressing the right areas.
Being able to make this commitment across all the signatories to the Statement of Intent will be far reaching. Between us, we work with partners and stakeholders that will help extend this commitment even further.
For the accreditation authorities in the National Scheme, developing accreditation standards that assist with recruitment and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples into our health professions, and assist education providers to ensure students are able to deliver culturally safe care in the future, is a role we are uniquely placed to undertake. Our work reaches all education providers with accredited programs, and in turn, the students and graduates of those programs.
This work will reach right across the health system and is an important step towards eliminating racism from that system.
Sometimes racism is overt. Sometimes it is less so, and often it’s not deliberate. But that doesn’t make it less damaging for patients. There is plenty of evidence of the effect of inequity on both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander registered health practitioners.
The Statement of Intent and the work that it brings will start addressing some important objectives, including growing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ participation in the registered health workforce and training key decision-makers in the National Scheme in cultural safety.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Accreditation Committee
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia
Australasian Osteopathic Accreditation Council
Australian and New Zealand Podiatry Accreditation Council
Australian Dental Council
Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association
Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association
Australian Medical Council
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council
Australian Pharmacy Council
Australian Physiotherapy Council
Australian Psychology Accreditation Council
Chinese Medicine Accreditation Committee
Chinese Medicine Board of Australia
Chiropractic Board of Australia
Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives
Council on Chiropractic Education Australasia
Dental Board of Australia
Indigenous Allied Health Australia
Medical Board of Australia
Medical Radiation Practice Accreditation Committee
Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association
National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation
Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia
Occupational Therapy Board of Australia
Occupational Therapy Council (Australia and New Zealand) Ltd
Optometry Board of Australia
Optometry Council of Australia and New Zealand
Osteopathy Board of Australia
Paramedicine Board of Australia
Pharmacy Board of Australia
Physiotherapy Board of Australia
Podiatry Board of Australia
Psychology Board of Australia