The Council of Australian Governments Health Council (COAG Health Council) has committed to the development of a workforce plan that will focus on attracting, training and retaining the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce across Australia.
Efforts to close the gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the broader Australian population requires a well-developed and sustainable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce.
The provision of culturally safe services across the mainstream health sector is also key to improving the availability and quality of health services available to First Australians.
In August 2018, the COAG Health Council committed to the development of a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Medical Workforce Plan.
The Australian Government Department of Health is leading the development of the Workforce Plan and has engaged Indigenous-owned organisation Cultural Fusion to do this work.
Cultural Fusion’s work developing the Workforce Plan will be overseen and guided by a Project Reference Group. The Project Reference Group includes representatives from the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Standing Committee, state and territory health departments, the National Health Leadership Forum, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce peak organisation and the Department of Health.
The Workforce Plan will be informed by extensive consultations across metropolitan, regional, rural and remote Australia. This includes the community controlled and mainstream health sector, education and research institutes, health workforce peak organisations, mental health organisations, Commonwealth agencies, state and territory governments and state and territory health and hospital services. A website is currently being developed to allow written feedback and questions from a broad range of stakeholders. This website will be operational from September 2019. We encourage all stakeholders to use this platform to have their say.
In parallel to the Workforce Plan, a National Medical Workforce Strategy (NMWS) is also being developed. This strategy will include consideration of growing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical workforce. Interaction between the NMWS and the Workforce Plan will be explored, noting that the Workforce Plan will have a whole-of-system focus, inclusive of the non-medical workforce.
It is anticipated that the final Workforce Plan will be delivered to the COAG Health Council for endorsement around mid-2020.