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RACGP improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare

Aboriginal healthcare in Australia
Photo: RACGP improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has today launched position statements to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare.

It comes as the RACGP celebrates the 10-year anniversary of its National Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, founded in 2010 to help ‘close the gap’.

Now with over 11,000 members, the Faculty is focused on growing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GP workforce and ensuring high-quality culturally responsive care.

The RACGP has launched five revised position statements to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare, covering a range of issues, including social determinants of health and improving primary care for patients.

RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon said there was considerable work to do to close the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes.
“Despite all of the effort that has gone into closing the gap, the difference between the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people remains stark. The rate of preventable hospital admissions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is three times higher than non-Indigenous people.

“GPs can make a real difference – as the first port of call for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, GPs can do a great deal to improve patient care and health outcomes.

“The RACGP’s revised position statements address factors that are key in improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, including social determinants – the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age.

“Colonisation, racism, poor investment and lack of equity impacts on people’s health outcomes, putting people at higher risk of early death.

“The research suggests that approximately 35% of the health gap is linked to social determinants.

“As primary healthcare providers, GPs can and do help to explore social circumstances, identify opportunities for interventions, and support coordination for patients.

“Social prescribing is one example of social support which can be provided by GPs and make a big difference for patients. However, current funding does not adequately support GPs to address social and cultural issues with their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients – this needs to change.

Chair, RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, RACGP A/Professor Peter O’Mara said he was proud of the Faculty’s work to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

“As we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the RACGP’s National Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, I am proud of what we have achieved. Particularly our Memorandum of Understanding with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and ongoing support for the Close the Gap campaign.

“Culturally appropriate health delivery systems will improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities – but they need to be adequately resourced.

“The RACGP is advocating for funding to implement our Vision for general practice, which will support GPs to provide high quality care and better respond to the individual needs and circumstances of all patients.

“We are also calling for greater investment in the growth and sustainability of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce, across a range of professions, including cultural positions such as traditional healers.

“I urge policymakers to follow the advice of the Coalition of Peaks and give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people real power to make change in their communities.”

The revised position statements include:

  • Identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients
  • Increased investment in ACCHOs
  • A stronger primary care system
  • Working together
  • Addressing social determinants of health

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