Improving the accessibility of health services in urban and regional settings for Indigenous people

16 Dec 2013

Introduction: Even though a wide range of health services exist in most urban and regional centres, they are not necessarily accessible. Accessible health services are physically accessible, affordable, appropriate and acceptable (that is, culturally competent and non-discriminatory).

This paper draws on approximately 30 research studies as well as documented practice experience to explore how to improve accessibility of metropolitan, urban and regional health services for Indigenous Australians.

Scrimgeour and Scrimgeour define urban and regional geographies as:

major towns and cities, where the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is a minority within a larger total population, and where ‘mainstream’ (i.e. not Indigenous-specific) health services exist either as the only available health services or as alternative to Indigenous-specific services such as Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

Many of the principles outlined in this resource sheet would be readily applicable in remote settlements. However, remote settlements also have additional access challenges such as physical distance from a service, the difficulties of attracting appropriate staff to remote work locations and the need for an interpreter. These will not be specifically covered in this paper. The majority of studies are Australian, although international evidence has been used where gaps emerged in local evidence.

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