Report on the Audit of Health Workforce in Rural and Regional Australia

4.4 Aboriginal health workforce

Page last updated: April 2008

Workforce capacity

  • Increased numbers of Indigenous Australians are needed in the health workforce.
  • The non-Indigenous health workforce needs to be better trained to effectively provide services to Indigenous people.

Specific issues

  • The number of Indigenous students entering undergraduate health courses has been disappointing, a product of many factors underlying educational disadvantage, including poverty, remoteness and negative experiences in schools.
  • All disciplines of health need to receive cultural training and put it into practice.
  • The 'Aboriginal health worker' (AHW) designation has been used inconsistently and loosely applied to workers with liaison, transport or advocacy functions who lack clinical training.
  • Poor remuneration and career pathways and little or no professional support affect the sustainability of the AHW workforce.
  • Roles are not well defined and planning and coordination for training within and between states and territories is lacking.