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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Maori Health

The College acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the original custodians of Australia.

The College is committed to raising physician awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health needs and their cultural context, and advocating for culturally appropriate health delivery systems that improve health outcomes.

The College vision for reconciliation is an Australia where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and other Australians, share equal access to health services. The College sees reconciliation as a strategic approach to systematically address the issues that impact on health outcomes.

The College encourages all physicians to incorporate knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and health into their own professional practice.

The College has made meaningful recommendations and stated commitments on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health as a major priority. The College can advocate and lead on reconciliation in our organisation, profession and the community by formally reflecting reconciliation in our attitudes, structures, policies and services.

We have the capacity to turn good intentions into action.   

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Advisory Committee

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Advisory Committee is the lead committee for the College's policy and advocacy activities in this important area.

To contact the committee, please email policy@racp.edu.au.   

The Maori Health Committee    

The Maori Health Committee has developed a discussion document addressing cultural competence in its wider sense. The Committee believes the key principles could be applied to a range of cultural interactions.

The Committee has also developed the following Guideline Commentaries to support physicians' cultural competence:

Reconciliation Action Plan

In 2011, the College approved our first RAP at the RACP Congress in Darwin, themed ‘Take up the Challenge: Indigenous Health and Chronic Disease'. The RACP was the first medical college to develop a RAP. Since then, the College has sought to raise awareness across the College of our RAP, the reasons for our RAP and our commitments under the RAP. The College has promoted understanding of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, land, history and culture amongst staff, Fellows and trainees.  

The College's second RAP aims to build on the momentum of the first RAP to further refine, prioritise and focus our activities to result in real outcomes on the ground. We will seek out active and meaningful partnerships and relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their representatives. We will work to create opportunities for Indigenous Australians in our organisation and in the profession. The College will regularly track and report on its progress in these areas.

Close the Gap

In April 2007, 40 of Australia's leading Indigenous and non-Indigenous health peak bodies and human rights organisations joined forces to launch a campaign to ‘Close the Gap' on health inequality. The campaign comes in response to a call from the Social Justice Commissioner to achieve health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within 25 years. ‘Close the Gap' calls on all levels of Australian government to put in place firm targets, funding and timeframes to address health inequalities, including providing equal access to primary health care for Indigenous Australians within 10 years.

The Close the Gap Campaign includes a number of key events to build public support for the campaign including National Close the Gap Day and the Annual NRL Close the Gap Round.

In 2012, National Close the Gap Day was held on Thursday 22nd March. National Close the Gap Day is a way for all Australians to join together and remind our political leaders of their commitments to close the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation. This year's theme, Power through Partnership, recognises the need for genuine, meaningful partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health peoples at all stages of health planning and delivery.

In 2012, the NRL's annual Close the Gap Round 22 will be held on 3- 6 August. The Round is dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of closing the gap in health equality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

National Best Practice Guidelines for Collecting Indigenous Health Status

All clients of health services should be asked if they are of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin in the process of routine data collection. Despite improvements in recent years, there have been continuing problems in establishing and maintaining standard practice in the collection of Indigenous status, resulting in the under-identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in key national health data sets. These guidelines have been developed to ensure the standard Indigenous status question is asked correctly and consistently of all clients of health services, and that this information is correctly recorded.

The AIHW guidelines can be found at http://www.aihw.gov.au/publications/index.cfm/title/11052

Australian Guideline for Prevention, Diagnosis and Management of Acute Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease (2nd Edition)  

The Australian Guideline for Prevention, Diagnosis and Management of Acute Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease (2nd Edition) is now available. Applying the latest available evidence, RHDAustralia, an initiative of the Menzies School of Health Research, comprehensively reviewed and updated the 2006 guidelines originally produced by the Heart Foundation and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand.

The updated guidelines are available from http://www.rhdaustralia.org.au/.  

Medical Specialist Information about the PBS Co-payment Measure

The PBS Co-Payment Measure is part of the Australian Government's Closing the Gap - Tackling Indigenous Chronic Disease Package. The PBS Co-Payment Measure commenced on 1 July 2010 and aims to reduce the cost of PBS medicines for Indigenous Australians. The assistance is in the form of lower or nil patient co-payments for PBS medicines.

Policy and Submissions

Please contact the Policy and Advocacy Unit for further information: policy@racp.edu.au