THE HON WARREN SNOWDON MP
Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional Services Delivery
9 July 2010
The health of Indigenous Australians took another step forward with the launch of a new peak national body to represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health professionals and students, the Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, said today.
Mr Snowdon said the Australian Government is funding the Indigenous Allied Health Australia Incorporated (IAHA), as part of its $19-million National Indigenous Health Workforce Training Package.
“Indigenous Allied Health Australia brings Indigenous allied health professionals such as physiotherapists, dieticians, occupational therapists and optometrists, and students in these professions, from around the country, together for the first time, giving them support and representation at a national level,” he said
“This is crucial, because ultimately it will strengthen the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce and encourage more students to take up careers as allied health professionals. This will translate to more trained Indigenous physiotherapists, dieticians, occupational therapists and optometrists, being provided to remote and communities across Australia.”
Indigenous Allied Health Australia will:
- help build the skills of the existing Indigenous allied health workforce by providing them with the necessary resources and learning opportunities to build a long and success career
- play an important role to develop and contribute to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health policy and planning
- work with the nation’s universities to increase the number of opportunities being provided to Indigenous students and ensure they have the support they need to succeed.
The establishment of the association is a key part of the Australian Government’s commitment to bolster and support Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce.
The IAHA will complement funding already provided by the Australian Government to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak health bodies, such as the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association, the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Indigenous Nurses and the new National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers Association.
In addition, the Australian Government is rolling out a national program aimed at upskilling the country’s 1,600 Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander health workers, which will prepare them for registration and accreditation.
The Australian Government is also ensuring that non-Indigenous health professionals are provided with education and training to work in Indigenous communities. This is being achieved through the Leaders in Indigenous Medical Education Network, which brings together all medical deans of universities, to ensure that Indigenous health is integrated within all health curriculums.
“A strong and skilled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce is essential to the Australian Government’s efforts to close the gap in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians,” Mr Snowdon said.
“All Australians have the fundamental right to have equitable access to quality health care, no matter where they live, and the launch of the IAHA is another step towards achieving that goal,” he said.
For more information on the AIHA, please see www.indigenousalliedhealth.com.au
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