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Aboriginal Health

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land we walk upon today and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of our region.

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While Aboriginal community controlled health services (ACCHSs) play a vital role in Aboriginal health, it is estimated that 60% of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders access health care elsewhere. Mainstream general practice therefore has an important role in ensuring better service provision, including improved HA (health assessment) uptake

Kehoe, H., Lovett, R. W. (2008). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessments - barriers to improving uptake. Australian Family Physician, 37(12), p. 1033

Closing the Gap

We work with the local community and health providers to improve access to services, promote health literacy and support the management of health conditions for Aboriginal people living and working in our region.

Some programs and services we facilitate are:

Integrated Team Care (ITC) program

The Integrated Team Care (ITC) Program (formerly known as Care Coordination and Supplementary Services or CCSS) is a service that contributes to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with chronic health conditions through access to care coordination, multidisciplinary care and support for self-management.

It improves access to culturally appropriate, mainstream primary care services, including but not limited to, general practice, allied health and specialists.

More information on the program and the organisations delivering the program are available from the links below.

Health professionals can access the referral form and patient consent form via our HealthPathways sites

Aboriginal Health Access Team

To enable us to support our Aboriginal communities we have established a dedicated Aboriginal Health team. The team work closely with local Aboriginal organisations and service providers, forming strong relationships that help identify regional needs and in turn close the service gap.

Melissa Watson

Aboriginal Health Access Officer
Phone Email

Phone Number

0429 232 898 Call now

Jessica Griffiths

Aboriginal Health Access Officer
Phone Email

Phone Number

0437 603 588 Call now
Aboriginal Mental Health

The PHN funds a number of organisations to provide assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have been experiencing mental health and wellbeing issues that impact on their daily life.

Coordinators are able to help clients navigate the health system and get support.

More information on the services funded and links to the organisations providing them are included below.

Community Service Directories

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Directories can assist health providers in having a single point of reference to ensure access to up to date information regarding support services addressing the social, emotional, economic, educational and cultural needs of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Aboriginal Health workforce

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners make a vital contribution to health care in Australia in both specialised service delivery and in a wide range of mainstream health care roles. Their roles may include enhancing the amount and quality of clinical services provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, facilitating communication with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities, and practice administration and management.

Aboriginal Health Practitioner

AHP’s provide clinical services to local Aboriginal communities. Aboriginal Health Practitioners are required to hold a Certificate IV Aboriginal Primary Health Care Practice and be registered with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia (ATSIHPBA) supported by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Aboriginal Health Practitioners perform a range of clinical practice and primary healthcare duties. Aboriginal Health Practitioners have a different pay scale to Aboriginal Health Workers. AHP’s can apply to have their own provider number which allows them to claim under the allied health item numbers following a 715 health assessment - 81300. (NSW Health)

AHP Education & Training

The Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) offer the AHP course which can be funded (conditions apply) through Abstudy/Smart & Skilled for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander applicants.

The students do have to attend some face to face sessions in Sydney during the 24 months course duration, with learning modules conducted online.

The student also needs a clinical placement to complete workplace hours and observations.

AHP Resources

Aboriginal Health Worker

The Aboriginal Health Worker category includes the roles of Aboriginal Community Health Workers, Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer and Aboriginal Liaison Officer. These roles are non-clinical and provide a variety of services in a community and/or hospital setting. These services include advocacy, support, liaison and health promotion.

Aboriginal Health Worker Guidelines (NSW Health)

Cultural Awareness Training

Our Aboriginal Health Access Team can provide free cultural awareness training to primary health care providers.

Aboriginal health can be complex, it is a sensitive area that requires cultural understanding. The team can visit your practice and provide a one hour education session to help improve health services cultural responsiveness. This can increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ access to health care, increase the effectiveness of care that is received, and contribute to closing the gap in health outcomes.

Contact the Aboriginal Health Access Team directly to organise a visit in your practice.

715 Health Assessment Support

The 715 Health Check is designed to support the physical, social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients of all ages. The aim of the 715 health assessment is to help ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people receive primary health care matched to their needs, by encouraging early detection, diagnosis and intervention for common and treatable conditions that cause morbidity and early mortality.

Education Session: How to Conduct a Quality 715 Health Assessment

RACGP/NACCHO 715 templates and information

National Guide to the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Assessment

MBS Item 10987 fact sheet

Practice Incentive Program Indigenous Health Incentive (PIP IHI)

The Practice Incentives Program (PIP) Indigenous Health Incentive supports general practices and Indigenous health services (practices) to provide better health care for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander patients. This includes best practice management of chronic disease.

This incentive is a key part of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap: Tackling Indigenous Chronic Disease.

The PBS Co-payment Measure implemented on 1 July 2010 promotes greater access to PBS medicines by reducing the co-payment for eligible Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander patients.

Practices must get patient consent to register their eligible patients for this measure and annotate PBS prescriptions.

Practices should note that patients registered only for the PBS Co-payment Measure won’t attract a patient registration payment.

Closing the Gap PBS co-payment measure information

PIP IHI guidelines and information

Hearing Assessment Program

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have high rates of otitis media (middle ear infection) and subsequent hearing loss. They suffer an average of 32 months of hearing loss in childhood, compared with three months for non-Indigenous children.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with undiagnosed hearing loss are disadvantaged at school with delayed auditory, cognitive and psychosocial development.

The PHN is partnering with Hearing Australia to provide opportunities for general practices to provide their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with to access diagnostic hearing assessments.

What if your practice already does hearing assessments?

Audiometrists are only qualified to do assessments on patients 4yrs and above. This means your 0-3 year old patients are not being assessed for early intervention.

What is the benefit for your practice?

This program provides qualified Audiologists who can conduct hearing assessments from birth for your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Who is eligible?
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the years before primary school.

Where will it happen?
Assessments can be arranged to take place in a quiet room in your practice or at a location that is mutually agreeable with your patients and the program. For example a Library.

What will it cost?
There is no cost to patients or practices to hold a clinic. There is no cost to the patients if referred into the program for ongoing treatment and devices.

When will the clinics take place?
We can liaise with your practice to organise a mutually agreeable time to conduct a clinic. Clinic days can be flexible depending on the amount of assessments required. For example, 1-2 days a month

What tests are provided?

The 4 Tests in the Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears (HAP-EE)

  1. Otoscopy
  2. Play Audiometry- age appropriate
  3. OAE
  4. Tympanometry

What ongoing treatment is provided?

If the child needs ongoing hearing care through the means of devices, assessments etc then they get referred into the funded Hearing Australia CSO/ Outreach pathway as a paediatric client. They remain a paediatric client until they turn 26 years of age.

If it is recommended the child sees an ENT, the Audiologist will write a report for the GP which advises this. Hearing Australia will also fit hearing aids if needed and provide ongoing support.

What next?
Please contact Sherilee McManus on 0421 662 975 or email Sherilee.McManus@hearing.com.au to discuss further details on organising a clinic for your practice


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