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Growing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical workforce key to closing the gap

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors offer unique perspectives and expertise yet remain under-represented in Australia’s health workforce.

This week the 2022 Close the Gap report, Transforming Power: Voices for Generational Change was released. The AMA, which is on the Close the Gap steering committee, said it supported the recommendations in the report which included:

  • Full implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, including an enshrined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.
  • Full implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021–2031 and other supporting plans, with a commitment to long term (10+ years) needs-based and coordinated cross-sectional funding by Commonwealth, State, Territory and local governments.
  • Investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led data development at the local level and uphold the principals of Data Governance and Sovereignty by empowering communities and individuals to access place-based data to design community-driven initiatives.
  • Development of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led research agenda for health and wellbeing, with a particular focus on the impacts of systematic racism in health systems. This should include an investment in knowledge translation and research impact.

The AMA is committed to the growth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors across the nation’s medical workforce. Parity improves workforce gaps and brings a depth of knowledge, experience and diverse perspectives into the health system.

In many places Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led organisations and programs are leading the way in strengthening the health and wellbeing of communities. We need this leadership to extend to medical workplaces across Australia and we can do that by bolstering the Indigenous workforce. This is key to closing the gap.

Culturally safe health care leads to better health outcomes both in terms of access to health care and treatment. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have a right to access appropriate, affordable, and responsive health care – wherever they are in Australia.

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