Expanding the outreach and service capacity of Indigenous health services
What the Australian Government is doingThe Government is funding local Indigenous people to work as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Outreach Workers in Indigenous health organisations. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Outreach Workers will encourage and support Indigenous people to access primary healthcare services and to ensure follow-up treatment is accessed. This may include assisting people to travel to and from appointments.
The Government will also provide additional funding for practice managers and health professionals to expand the workforce in rural and remote Indigenous health services.
How this will work
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Outreach Workers will be employed through selected Indigenous health organisations to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who do not currently access health care, to do so.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Outreach Workers will also help with access to follow-up treatment.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Outreach Workers will be drawn from the local community and are not expected to have existing qualifications. Required training will be provided.
- The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Outreach Workers will work to:
- encourage people to get more involved with the health system, including going to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) or other health services more often. This is particularly important for people who are less likely to access health care, such as young people and men;
- help ACCHOs to identify people in the community who could benefit from a health check, or who need assistance to access other health services;
- provide practical assistance to help people access health care, including follow-up care; and
- identify and remove any barriers that may prevent people from accessing health services.
- The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Outreach Workers will be supported, mentored and supervised by practice managers and Aboriginal Health Workers based in the Indigenous health organisations. They will also be provided with training (see workforce education and training fact sheet).
- Practice managers in Indigenous health organisations will be funded to:
- maintain systems for individual client records and patient information and recall;
- ensure people are assisted to access care and follow-up consistently on recommended treatments;
- establish links with other health organisations to assist local health services, hospitals, specialists and allied health professionals to work together effectively in providing continuity of care for patients in accordance with their chronic disease management plans;
- organise referrals and follow-up appointments for people to access health services as identified in their chronic disease management plans; and
- in some instances, supervise and support other staff such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Outreach Workers.
- Additional funding will also be provided for limited expansion of the current health professional workforce in rural and remote Indigenous health services to help meet the expected increase in demand for services. The additional workforce could include doctors, nurses, allied and Aboriginal health workers, as well as medical technicians.
How this will help Indigenous Australians
- Indigenous Australians will benefit from:
- improved continuity of care for their chronic health problems;
- increased access to additional care options;
- improved management of chronic conditions;
- improved health; and
- reduced numbers of patients requiring acute care in future.
- Freeing-up GPs and other health professionals from administrative coordination and community liaison tasks will mean they can better focus on providing health care to Indigenous Australians.
- GPs and other health professions in Indigenous health organisations will be able to address a greater range of the health needs of the Indigenous population.
- Indigenous health organisations will better manage specific Indigenous health needs and issues at the local level.
- There will be increased collaboration between ACCHOs, local GPs, hospitals and allied health providers.
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