Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) and Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Projects

The Australian Government is investing substantial funds in the Indigenous health workforce. Through the Department of Health and Ageing and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations there are a range of workforce programs being developed and implemented, particularly programs that contribute to building Indigenous health workforce capacity.

Page last updated: 18 December 2012

The Compendium highlights the range of programs that, directly or indirectly, support the increased capacity of the Indigenous health workforce. These activities may include directly supporting the increase in the workforce numbers; education and training programs; scholarships and traineeships, health professional placements (work experience), and curriculum development.

Purpose: Measures funded by DoHA and DEEWR that aim to increase the Indigenous health workforce capacity.

DoHA-Funded Programs

Action: Supporting and Mentoring the Indigenous and non-Indigenous Health Workforce

Action
Number
MeasureDescriptionKey Outcomes
1
Australian Indigenous Doctors Association (AIDA)To increase the number of Indigenous doctors and specialists, and other Indigenous health professionals. AIDA is the lead advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
  • Advocates for sound policy development, implementation and evaluation through mechanisms that include national policy forums and committees, submissions and representations.
  • Advocates for growing the numbers and capacity of future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical practitioners and leaders and assists in strengthening the capacity of other Indigenous bodies, and universities.
2Congress of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Nurses (CATSIN)To contribute to the support of Indigenous nurses and nursing students to assist in increasing the recruitment and retention of Australian Indigenous people into nursing.
  • Assists in policy development on issues relating to Indigenous Australian health, nurses and nursing students.
  • Assists in advocating for workforce development and the delivery of nursing care to rural, remote and Indigenous communities.
3Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA)To contribute to developing a stronger Indigenous allied health workforce and to encourage more to take up careers as allied health professionals and allied health students.
  • Supports, mentors and links current and future Indigenous allied health professionals.
  • Links allied health practitioners who either contribute to Indigenous health services or who are interested in enhancing health services for Indigenous Australians.
  • Promotes the dissemination of knowledge and skill sharing through the establishment of a clearinghouse.
4National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association (NATSIHWA)To support and promote the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce across Australia.
  • Assists in advocating on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers to ensure input and engagement on various workforce issues, including recruitment and retention strategies and career pathways and support.
  • Assists in facilitating the mentoring and the provision of support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers.
  • Assists in facilitating the planning of certificate courses for Indigenous health workers in all states and territories.
  • Assists in contributing to policy and planning committees that address Indigenous health.
5Leaders in Indigenous Medical Education (LIME)To provide secretariat support to the LIME Network through the Medical Deans of Australia and New Zealand through the University of Melbourne, and to support members of the network — including medical educators, Indigenous health and community professionals, medical colleges and student representatives.
  • Developing a nationally agreed curriculum framework for the inclusion of Indigenous health in core medical curricula.
  • Implementing and evaluating the framework as part of accreditation standards for medical schools.
6Committee of Presidents of Medical Colleges (CPMC) to implement the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Specialist FrameworkTo advocate for Indigenous content to be included in specialist training curricula and to actively increase the number of Indigenous Australian specialists.
  • Encourages CPMC member colleges to implement an Indigenous Employment Strategy within their own organisations.
  • Promotes a centralised, coordinated approach to identify and communicate trainee placements in Indigenous health training posts.
  • Developing a partnership approach to Indigenous health, including the relationship with NACCHO and its state affiliates, to offer a broad range of training opportunities in Indigenous health.
  • Developing a training module to assist the accreditation teams when assessing college standards of cultural competence.
7Workforce Implementation Policy Officers (WIPOs)To develop and facilitate national and jurisdictional health workforce networks with a focus on developing and coordinating Indigenous health workforce responses. WIPOs work with National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) affiliates.
  • Contributes to jurisdictional workforce planning through the development, evaluation and monitoring of workforce activities that are consistent with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce National Strategic Framework (2011-2015).
  • In accordance with the framework, facilitates and reports on workforce activities that assist both Indigenous and non-Indigenous health professionals and students to access culturally-appropriate information and training opportunities.
8CRANAplus activitiesTo provide up-skilling for Indigenous health workers who work in or want to work in remote areas.
  • Works with key Indigenous organisations — including the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector, state and territory governments, and Divisions of General Practice — to assist in training and mentoring of Indigenous health workers and nurses.
9Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Registered Training Organisation National Network (ATSHRTONN)To facilitate a consistent, streamlined and collaborative approach across Indigenous registered training organisations (RTOs). ATSIHRTONN advocates and leads in the planning and delivery of culturally-relevant education and training.
  • Supports the RTO membership groups to deliver training to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers (AHWs) and other staff who work in Aboriginal Medical Services throughout Australia.
  • Assists in the coordination, in consultation with the Commonwealth, of the assessment and training for AHWs upgrading to the new Certificate IV and working with RTOs to identify training needs, in particular preparing for the start of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS) in July 2012 for AHWs.
10DoHA HWD and OATSIH State/Territory Offices – workforce projectsTo provide funding for training and related projects to support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework (2011-15).
  • Primarily funding for the training of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers , and training for a national pool of qualified nationally-accredited assessors for these workers.
11For more information see the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Worker (ATSIHW) Project – Health Workforce Australia website (external)Health Workforce Australia (HWA) has undertaken the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Worker (ATSIHW) Project. The project team examined the definition, role and contribution of the ATSIHW to primary health care. It will provide a national picture of the numbers, locations, roles, skills, and qualifications of ATSIHWs.
  • Establishing a nationally-consistent workforce planning framework, with workforce scenarios to 2025.
  • Developing a national strategy for health workforce, innovation and reform to guide investment by HWA.
  • Completing an ATSIHW workforce review to support registration and accreditation from July 2012.
  • Providing funding for simulated learning environments for the development of professional and vocational education and training (VET) roles.
  • Expanding clinical placements and regional coordination of placements across 30 professions.
  • Undertaking 20 new Caring for Older Australians workforce innovation projects.
12Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Working Group (ATSIHWWG)To develop and oversee the implementation of the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Workforce National Strategic Framework (2011-2015).
  • Provides advice on critical health workforce issues that impact on the health outcomes of Indigenous people.
  • Engages with education, training and employment authorities to promote:
  • the links between education and sustainable health service delivery
  • education as the key pathway to building the number of Indigenous people working in health careers and, through this, better health outcomes for Indigenous people.
  • Works with HWA on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce projects.
  • Participates in registration and accreditation consultation for Indigenous health practitioners.
  • Engages with peak groups and stakeholders to promote understanding of health workforce issues as they affect Indigenous people and enlist their support to progress the work plan.
Top of page Action: Recruitment
Action
Number
MeasureDescriptionKey Outcomes
13
COAG Indigenous Chronic Disease PackageTo increase the capacity of the primary care workforce to deliver health care to Indigenous Australians. This includes communication and marketing activities to encourage more Indigenous people to take up a career in health and more health professionals to work in Indigenous health.
    • Fund a total of 694 positions across the package over four years (2009-2013), with many focusing on employment and training of Indigenous Australians.
    • For latest allocation of positions see
    • Closing the Gap – Indigenous Chronic Disease website
14
COAG Indigenous Chronic Disease Package - Attracting more people to work in Indigenous Health campaignTo encourage Indigenous secondary students to consider a job in health. The campaign will also raise awareness of the opportunity to work in Indigenous health among existing health professionals and health students.
    • Increasing the awareness of working in health among Indigenous secondary students. Also, to increase interest in working in Indigenous health among existing health workers and health students. The campaign commenced on 24 July 2011.
    • Showcasing the stories of real ‘Health Heroes’ — Indigenous people already making a difference in the health sector.
    • Advertising, supported by a schedule of school visits that provide an opportunity for students to ask questions of existing health professionals.
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Action: Employment and Training

Action
Number
MeasureDescriptionKey Outcomes
15
COAG Indigenous Chronic Disease Package - Outreach and Service Capacity of Indigenous Health OrganisationsTo increase access to primary healthcare services for Indigenous Australians and improve their health outcomes.
    • Providing additional Indigenous outreach workers, practice managers and health professionals in Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations. They will help improve the access of Indigenous people to health services and expand the capacity of Indigenous health services to provide care to Indigenous people.
    • Employing or training more than 160 outreach workers over four years.
16
COAG Indigenous Chronic Disease Package -workforce education & trainingTo provide education and training for new Indigenous outreach workers.
    • Delivering orientation and training through the RTOs.
    • Providing education and training to 160 new Indigenous outreach workers.
17
COAG Indigenous Chronic Disease Package - action to reduce Indigenous smokingTo reduce Indigenous smoking rates and contribute to closing the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
    • Providing 21 Regional Tobacco Coordinators and up to 22 Tobacco Action Workers between 2010-11 and 2014-15.
    • Providing a trained Tobacco Action Workforce to work in regional teams with the Healthy Lifestyle Workforce — to implement community-based smoking prevention and cessation support activities tailored to local communities and families.
    • Training a total of 1,000 existing health workers, drug and alcohol treatment staff and community educators in brief interventions to reduce smoking rates in Indigenous communities.
18
COAG Indigenous Chronic Disease Package - Care Coordination and Supplementary Services ProgramTo have more health workers employed in improving health outcomes for Indigenous people with chronic health conditions — through providing better access to coordinated and multidisciplinary care.
    • Employing care coordinators to assist in improving health outcomes for Indigenous people with chronic health conditions.
    • Providing care coordination by qualified health workers (e.g. specialist nurses, Aboriginal Health Workers) to patients with a chronic disease who have been enrolled and referred by practices (mainstream or Aboriginal Medical Service) that participate in the Practice Incentives Program (PIP) Indigenous Health Incentive (IHI). Care coordinators are not required to be Indigenous.
19
Closing the Gap Improving Indigenous Access to Mainstream Primary Care Program – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Project Officers and Outreach WorkersTo contribute to closing the gap in life expectancy by improving access to culturally-sensitive mainstream primary care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
    • Providing employment of Indigenous health project officers and Indigenous outreach workers by the Divisions of General Practice Network — to help improve access to culturally-sensitive mainstream primary care services for Indigenous people.
20
Illicit Drugs – Indigenous Programs (IDIP) -Indigenous National Alcohol and Other Drugs Workforce Training ProgramTo strengthen the capacity of Indigenous communities and the alcohol and other drug sector to deal with Indigenous alcohol and drug misuse.
    • Provides training and delivery of the CHC30108 Certificate III in Community Services Work and the CHC40408 Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs from the CHC08 Community Services Training Package.
21
COAG Closing the Gap -helping Indigenous Australians self-manage their chronic diseaseTo assist Indigenous Australians to self-manage their chronic disease — providing training of at least 400 health workers over three years across Australia by 30 June 2013.
    • Training a variety of health workers in the use of a self-management program developed by the Flinders University of South Australia for delivery to Indigenous people in a variety of settings and circumstances.
    • Following completion of the training, at least 50,000 sessions have been delivered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients over three years by 30 June 2013.
22
Closing the Gap – improving primary health care for Indigenous people across NTTo improve primary health care to Indigenous people through service expansion and system reform, including regionalisation and increased community control of services.
    • Funding for service expansion to support an additional 273 positions, of which 65 are Aboriginal Community Worker (ACW) positions that provide entry-level pathways to employment in the health sector.
    • Offering a proportion of the ACW positions as Certificate II Family and Community Services Traineeships — including 12 specialist chronic disease positions to train remote health teams in community development and health promotion program delivery.
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Action: Scholarships and other Support

Action
Number
MeasureDescriptionKey Outcomes
23
Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS)To address the under-representation of Indigenous people in health professions and to increase the number of Indigenous people with professional health qualifications. The scheme is administered by the Royal College of Nursing Australia (RCNA).
    • Assists Indigenous students of health-related disciplines to complete their studies and enter the broader Australian health workforce. A total of 327 Indigenous students had a scholarship in the 2011 academic year.
24
Rotary Indigenous Health ScholarshipsTo provide scholarships and mentoring to Indigenous students of health-related disciplines. Scholarships are administered by the Australian Rotary Health Research Fund.
    • Providing scholarship places in the 2011 academic year to Indigenous students of health-related disciplines.
25
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacy Scholarship Scheme (ATSIPSS)To increase the number of Indigenous pharmacists working in community pharmacies — thereby assisting in meeting the needs of their communities.
    • Providing scholarships (which can cover up to four years).
26
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacy Assistant Traineeship Scheme (ATSIPATS)To increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the pharmacy workforce.
    • Better meeting the needs of local Indigenous communities through pharmacies.
    • A total of 33 traineeship placements are currently active — 16 are continuing and 17 have been approved in the first year of 2010-11.
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Action: GP Training Posts

Action
Number
MeasureDescriptionKey Outcomes
27
Indigenous Health Training (IHT) Posts - part of the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) ProgramTo expose a greater number of GP registrars to Indigenous health through IHT posts, and to build the workforce in Indigenous health care.
    • Providing 112 IHT posts each year — varying from 10 weeks to six months.
    • Providing 895 full-time equivalent weeks of training in 2010 by Aboriginal Medical Services for the Prevocational General Practice Placements Program (PGPP). This equates to 74.6 placements (a DoHA average placement is for 12 weeks).
28
Indigenous Transition Pathways to Medicine (ITPM) ProgramTo enable Northern Territory medical students to complete an entire medical degree while staying in the NT.
    • Recruiting and training Indigenous people to become doctors in the NT.
    • Providing support for Indigenous students in the 2011 and 2012 academic year.
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Action: Targeted Employment and Training in the VET Sector

Action
Number
MeasureDescriptionKey Outcomes
29
Building an Indigenous Workforce in Community
Care (BAIWICC)
To increase employment and development opportunities — to halve the employment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
    • Increasing Indigenous employment in urban and regional aged care services across Australia. Converting 120 positions for Community Development and Employment projects to actual jobs.
    • Increasing skills and qualifications of Indigenous people employed under this initiative.
    • Creating viable career pathways that lead into aged care and primary health care for Indigenous people.
    • Improving the provision of culturally-appropriate aged care to the Indigenous community.
30
Indigenous Remote Service Delivery (IRSD) TraineeshipsProviding 80 IRSD traineeships targeting Indigenous people in remote aged and primary healthcare services.
    • Providing training opportunities in business and administration for Indigenous people working in, or wishing to work in, aged and primary healthcare services across Australia.
    • Increasing the number of skilled Indigenous people working in the aged and primary healthcare services.
    • Creating viable career pathways leading into aged care and primary health care for Indigenous people.
31
Northern Territory Jobs Package (NTJP)To increase employment and development opportunities to halve the employment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
    • Increasing Indigenous employment in regional, rural and remote aged care services across the NT.
    • Increasing skills and qualifications of Indigenous people employed under this initiative.
    • Creating viable career pathways leading into aged care for Indigenous people.
    • Improving the provision of culturally-appropriate aged care to the Indigenous community.
32
Torres Strait Islands (TSI) Jobs PackageProvide funding for 50 permanent, part-time positions for Indigenous aged care workers within aged care services. This initiative includes an additional allocation for the provision of culturally-appropriate and targeted training to this workforce.
    • Developing the TSI aged care workforce through the provision of culturally-appropriate training and resources.
    • Providing quality aged care services for Indigenous people through appropriate staffing and training and building capacity and sustainability in the aged care training workforce in the TSI.
33
NT Remote Workforce Training and Development ProjectTo build a well informed and skilled network of health and community service providers who understand the implications of child abuse and the effects of related trauma on Indigenous children, families and communities in the Northern Territory.
    • Providing accredited or certified training on health aspects of child abuse and related trauma in remote Indigenous communities to a variety of health and community services workers in the Northern Territory.
    • Providing a core platform of skills and knowledge requirements about child abuse related trauma — applicable to both Aboriginal community controlled and government health sectors.
    • Encouraging involvement of health professionals and communities in the prevention of child abuse and neglect.
34
The Cape York Welfare Reform Trial (CYWRT)To increase employment and development opportunities to halve the employment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
    • Developing the CYWRT aged care workforce through providing culturally-appropriate training and resources.
    • Ensuring quality aged care services for Indigenous people through appropriate staffing and training.
    • Building capacity and sustainability in the aged care training workforce in Cape York.
35
National Jobs Creation Package (NJCP)To increase employment and development opportunities — to halve the employment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
    • Providing permanent part-time positions to Indigenous people, based on Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) converted positions.
    • Increasing Indigenous employment in remote and regional aged care services across Australia.
    • Increasing skills and qualifications of Indigenous people employed under this initiative.
    • Creating viable career pathways leading in to aged care for Indigenous people.
36
Aboriginal Health Workers –training for ear and hearing screeningTo develop and deliver an accredited training package for ear health and hearing screening for AHWs.
    • Improving eye and ear health services for Indigenous Australians under the Better Education and Employment Outcomes measure.
    • Other components include:
    • Providing ear surgical and ear, nose and throat (ENT) services
    • embedding ear health within primary health care
    • increasing awareness of the risk factors and promoting preventive behaviours for ear disease among Indigenous people
    • developing and piloting a training program.
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Action: Mental Health Workforce Capacity

Action
Number
MeasureDescriptionKey Outcomes
37
COAG Mental Health Measure - improving the capacity of workers in Indigenous Communities MeasureTo provide health practitioners, including AHWs, counsellors and clinic staff, with training to assist to identify and address (including referrals for treatment) mental illness and associated substance use issues in Indigenous communities. Support staff, such as transport and administration staff, will be trained in mental health first aid.
    • Improving the capacity of workers in Indigenous communities to deal with social and emotional wellbeing issues.
38
Social and Emotional Wellbeing Workforce Support Units (WSUs)To provide workforce support services through new arrangements under Bringing Them Home and Link–Up Counsellors.
    • Strengthening the Indigenous Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) health workforce through: peer support; development of cross-sector linkages and interagency cooperation; identifying training needs; and coordination of social and emotional wellbeing training delivery with registered training organisations (RTOs).
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Action: Quality Service Delivery

Action
Number
MeasureDescriptionKey Outcomes
39Closing the Gap - quality assurance for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Services Pathology Program - enhancementTo promote appropriate treatment of Indigenous diabetic patients at the time of testing — to avoid the poor health outcomes associated with unmanaged diabetes.
    • Supporting the management of diabetes in Indigenous communities (80 per cent of which are in rural and remote locations) by providing on site diabetes-related pathology testing.
    • Providing culturally-appropriate training, support, on-going education for healthcare workers, an Indigenous leadership program and a national quality assurance program at participating Indigenous healthcare services across Australia.
40Supporting Women in Rural Areas Diagnosed with Breast Cancer (Supporting Women)To better inform Indigenous Health Workers about breast cancer treatment and care, including the latest advances.
    • Developing through the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre a nationally-accredited module on breast cancer for inclusion in national curriculum Certificate IV HLT07 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Package — under the Supporting Women measure.
    • The unit of competency and supporting resources are in the final draft stages and were to be submitted to the National Quality Council in June 2011.
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DEEWR Funded Programs that assist Employment of Indigenous Australians in the Health Sector

Action
Numbers
MeasureDescriptionKey Outcomes
41
Indigenous Employment Program (IEP)To increase the employment outcomes and participation in economic activities of Indigenous Australians — contributing to the Government’s commitment to halving the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous employment outcomes by 2018.
    • Supporting employment and training for Indigenous Australians in nursing, health administration, aged care, counselling, medical research and mental health roles, through the IEP.
42
Improving Employment ServicesTo support very long term unemployed job seekers who have been on income support or in employment services for two years or more through access to additional wage subsidies and support to participate in job training, Work for the Dole and other activities for 11 months a year.
    • Providing funding to Job Services Australia providers to pilot the provision of culturally-appropriate mentoring support for Indigenous job seekers when they commence work.
    • Increasing flexibility so employment service providers can work in remote areas with job seekers, many of whom are Indigenous, so they can secure a sustainable attachment to the labour market and meet employers’ needs.
43
Indigenous Youth Careers Pathways ProgramTo provide young people with personal mentoring and case management to help them deal with the move from school to work. It will also be available to inspire and support other Indigenous students, including younger students, to complete their schooling and then transition into further education or a job.
    • Providing school-based traineeships and associated support activities to Year 11 and 12 and, in some circumstances, Year 10 Indigenous students in targeted high schools across the country. The program will commence from the start of the 2012 school year.
44
Away From Base for ‘Mixed-Mode’ Delivery (AFB)To increase access and participation by Indigenous students from rural and remote areas in tertiary studies (higher education and VET).
    • Supporting employment and training for Indigenous Australians in nursing, aged care and mental health.
    • Helping increase enrolments and retention, improving educational outcomes and improving employment prospects, life choices and quality of life for Indigenous people.
45
Workplace English Language and Literacy Program (WELL)To assist organisations to train staff in English language, literacy and numeracy skills.
    • Helping workers meet their employment and training needs now and into the future.
    • Providing WELL funding on a competitive grants basis for English language and literacy training linked to job-related workplace training.
46
National Workforce Development FundTo provide skills training in accordance with a workforce development plan for new workers and up-skill existing workers. The Fund assists industry under a co-contribution model.
    • Assisting employers meet their skill needs in priority occupations.
    • In 2011-12 the fund priorities are construction and aged care; however, training opportunities will be available for other health occupations.
    • Applications from industry through their relevant Industry Skills Council closed on 30 September 2011.

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