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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.


The aim of the workplace-based case studies was to collect ground-level data from urban, regional, rural and remote regions of NSW.

Key Findings:

  • When it comes to Aboriginal people enjoying a career in the health sector, it seems that there are barriers all along the way. Financial pressures impact at every step. The project also identified important enablers. At the organisational level, career development starts with the ‘right’ governance and management structure and strategies, including a Workforce Development Strategy that includes specific goals and actions to enhance career development and ensure cultural safety.
  • Some Aboriginal people come to work in health because they want to help their own people and to improve the health and wellbeing of the community. They want to honour their Elders and to make a difference for future generations by helping to reduce the high rates of accidents, illness and death.
  • For people who live in the country needing to leave home for training or work is a major roadblock, with family responsibilities including childcare and finances (travel and living costs, strain on family at home) to consider. Family matters often bring people back home. Lack of positions in remote and rural areas means that Aboriginal health staff with university qualifications often end up working in the city. Other roadblocks include lack of role models and lack of family and community support.
  • More education and training is required at all levels: literacy courses in the community; out-ofschool options to complete years 11 and 12; bridging courses; workplace training; TAFE courses— Certificates 3 and 4 and Diploma; modified university courses with study blocks. Mentoring is important for all Aboriginal health staff, together with encouragement and support from peers, family and community.

Strategies to improve Aboriginal career pathways are necessary at multiple levels: within health services and organisations, across the health and education sectors, and in the community. Partnerships will be essential in moving forward.

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