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First Peoples

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this resource may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.

Position paper

In a general practice, recording a patient’s status in health records facilitates delivery of quality improvement activities. Practices are encouraged to audit the care of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and identify successful outcomes and areas for improvement.

Meaningful use of data to support high-quality healthcare delivery is vital. Accurate identification provides a number of benefits to practices and patients, and supports broader policy planning. Significantly, identification can support high-quality, tailored healthcare and clinical decision making while guaranteeing access to relevant services and programs. 

Key Findings:

  • General practitioners (GPs) and practice teams play a crucial role in ensuring identification processes are implemented effectively to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Self-reporting is the most accurate means of identifying an individual’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status – all patients should be asked the standard identification status question. ‘Asking the question’ acknowledges an individual’s cultural identity and its relevance to their clinical needs and care planning, and encourages partnership between patients and healthcare providers.
  • the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) strongly encourages general practice teams to accept a patient’s self-reported status without query or question – GPs should not require patients, nor should patients be expected, to demonstrate evidence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status in general practice settings.
  • Key barriers to identifying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients in general practice include low awareness and understanding among general practice staff of the importance and processes for identifying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander–specific services. Attitudinal barriers among GPs and practice staff, leading to discrimination and racism is another barrier.
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