Closing the gap by 2031: A shared commitment

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:

  • a culturally safe health workforce supported by nationally consistent standards, codes and guidelines across all professions in the National Scheme
  • using our leadership and influence to achieve reciprocal goals
  • increased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ participation in the registered health workforce
  • greater access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to culturally safe services of health professions regulated under the National Scheme, and
  • increased participation across all levels of the National Scheme.

Quotes from some of the participating organisations

Mr Martin Fletcher, CEO, AHPRA

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.

Associate Professor Gregory Phillips, CEO, ABSTARR Consulting and co-chair of the National Scheme Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group

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.

Dr Joanna Flynn AM, Chair of the Medical Board of Australia and co-chair of the National Scheme Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group

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.

Ms Bronwyn Clark, Chair, Health Professions Accreditation Collaborative Forum (a forum for all accreditation authorities in the National Scheme)

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.

Ms Janine Mohamed, CEO, Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives and one of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders on the National Scheme Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group

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.

How far does this work reach?

  • AHPRA and National Boards register over 700,000 registered health practitioners across Australia.
  • National Boards set the standards that registered health practitioners must meet across the 14 regulated professions: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practice, Chinese medicine, chiropractic, dental, medical, medical radiation practice, nursing and midwifery, occupational therapy, optometry, osteopathy, pharmacy, physiotherapy, podiatry and psychology. Paramedicine will be joining the scheme later in 2018.
  • Accreditation authorities accredit over 740 programs of study across Australia.
  • Every year, most new health practitioners become registered after successfully completing an accredited and approved program of study. Between 1 October 2017 and 31 March 2018, more than 26,600 graduates applied for registration.

Signatories to the National Scheme Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Statement of Intent

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

Lowitja Institute

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

For more information

 
 
Page reviewed 4/07/2018