THE HON WARREN SNOWDON MP
Minister for Indigenous Health
16 May 2011
The Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, has launched a report aimed at encouraging more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to take up careers in health.
The report, Indigenous Health Workforce, has been prepared by the National Indigenous Health Equality Council (NIHEC), a group of 15 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health stakeholders established to advise the Gillard Government on pathways forward to Close The Gap in Indigenous Health outcomes.
Launching the report at NIHEC’s Indigenous Health Workforce forum in Adelaide, Mr Snowdon said the Gillard Government had invested millions of dollars to bolster the Indigenous health workforce since 2008.
“I’m pleased to announce that in the last two years we have already funded 34 new positions in SA, as part of 355 new positions around Australia.
“Of these new positions, 18 have been placed in health services around SA from Adelaide to Murray Bridge, with 268 placed across the country. These include new positions such as Healthy Lifestyle Workers, Tobacco Action Workers and Tobacco Action Coordinators.” [see table attached for full listing]
“Building a strong workforce is an imperative to improving health outcomes and the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people,” he said.
NIHEC’s report presents a series of recommendations aimed at reducing the gap in health workforce participation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 20 per cent in the priority areas of medicine, nursing and allied health within 10 years and by 50 per cent within 20 years.
Mr Snowdon said there was great opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to move away from professions they had traditionally worked in.
“Health is the largest employer in Australia and the sector provides many untapped opportunities for the employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We know that many Indigenous Australians are either nurses or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers.
“We want to spread the message that there are outstanding opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to become health professionals in other areas, such as doctors, nurses or allied health professionals,” he said.
“The Federal Government is working to address this and has already jointly funded a program which started this year and which allows Northern Territory medical students able to complete an entire medical degree without having to leave the Territory. So far 10 of the students out of a total of 24 are Indigenous,” Mr Snowdon said.
The program is joint initiative between Flinders University, Charles Darwin University, James Cook University and the Australian and Northern Territory governments.
Mr Snowdon was launching the report at the NIHEC’s second Indigenous Health Workforce Forum. It can be viewed in full at the Council’s website, www.nihec.gov.au |
For more information, contact Mr Snowdon’s office (02) 6277 7820