This National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework (2016‐2023) (the framework) is a mechanism to guide national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce policy and planning. The framework focuses on prioritisation, target setting and monitoring of progress against growing and developing the capacity of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce.
It will assist in contributing to the needs of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce across all service delivery areas (both public and private), including: social and emotional wellbeing; drug and alcohol; and the mental health workforce. The framework has been developed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Working Group (ATSIHWWG), a working group of the Health Workforce Principal Committee of the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council, with input from key Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health stakeholders.
It is anticipated that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce policy will be better coordinated across government, service settings, professional groups and the education, training and regulation sectors so as to maximise investment in its health workforce.
The framework aims to contribute to the achievement of equitable health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through building a strong and supported health workforce that has appropriate clinical and non-clinical skills to provide culturally-safe and responsive health care.
- Effective, comprehensive and culturally-safe and responsive approaches to service delivery should have the flexibility to reflect the local context and the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce participation is an essential element within all health workforce initiatives, settings and strategies.
- Workplaces must be free of racism, culturally-safe, supportive and attractive to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce.
- Ongoing inter-professional collaboration, education and support is essential to build a strong and sustainable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce
- Workforce models and strategies are needed to develop an effective Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce. They must be based on community needs and evidence-based practice, which is supported by meaningful and reliable data.
- Commitment to achieving a culturally proficient and safe health workforce must come from the top and then filter down through the different levels of each organisation. This is key to growing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce, and will require sound policy, budgetary directions and strong leadership across governments.
Contributing to closing the gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the broader population within a generation is a key aim of the health workforce development and reform activities embedded in the Framework. Progress in implementing the Framework will also be guided by, and influence, key bodies such as the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).