New resource to help health stakeholders improve health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients

A new online resource developed by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), will help Australia’s medical community provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with better access to specialist medical services.

Speaking at RACP’s 2018 Congress event, RACP President Dr Catherine Yelland, said the resource will be useful for doctors, nurses, primary health care providers as well as hospital, allied health staff and communities.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can struggle to access specialist medical care for a number of reasons across Australia,” Dr Yelland said.

“This can be a result of a lack of availability of services, both in urban and in remote areas, a lack of cultural competence and safety in health services as well as the daunting prospect of being admitted to a major hospital.

“As a result, Indigenous patients access specialist services at a lower rate than needed, about 40 per cent less than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

“This new online resource brings together a number of case studies showcasing ways that health professionals can work with Australia’s first peoples to provide culturally safe care, when they need it and where they need it.”

One case study available on the site details the experience of a doctor running an outreach program in the Katherine area. The case study focuses on the importance of building remote outreach work on quality, ongoing relationships with patients and being responsive to community needs identified by remote GPs, health services and clinic staff.

In another case study based on outreach services offered from Cairns to the Torres Strait, experts describe the importance of building relationships with local primary health services in the delivery of culturally safe and appropriate care.

“We hope this resource, together with a Medical Specialist Access Framework Guide being developed by the RACP, will help health professionals set up local and relevant models of care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.”

The resource is available via the RACP’s website ( and will continue to be updated with new tools and information, following a period of feedback with stakeholders.
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