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First Nations 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.

Closing the Gap in Primary Care

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

COVID-19 Information for First Nations Communities

The HNECC PHN recognises the health risks and challenges of COVID-19 for First Nations Communities across our region. The PHN has developed resources to assist First Nations people to access reliable information about the COVID-19 vaccines, and to identify health services to manage and treat COVID-19 related illness.

The PHN's First Nations Health Access team has created a dedicated First Nations COVID-19 directory page. This contains First Nations specific information, tips and resources to help you protect yourself, your family and community against COVID-19.

The team has also developed several unique resources for Primary Care Providers, including General Practitioners, Aboriginal Medical Services, Pharmacies and Integrated Team Care providers; and First Nations community members. These include:

  • The First Nations SMS Scripts have been developed for Primary Care providers to promote direct access to credible COVID-19 vaccine information and support. The culturally sensitive messages can be sent to First Nations patients to assist decision making and reduce the confusion created by many social media messages.
  • Yarning about COVID-19 with Dane Simpson features comedian, actor and proud Gamilaraay man, Dane Simpson. In these videos Dane sits down for a chat with Hunter New England Local Health District Immunisation Coordinator Patrick Cashman, to get the facts about COVID-19 (watch video). Dane also talks to Hunter GP, Dr Anita Watts, about the importance of vaccination for First Nations Communities, and finding easy to understand advice about vaccination from a trustworthy source (watch video).
  • VAX FAX WITH DANE SIMPSON is a series of short yarns featuring Dane Simpson and our local experts busting some myths and getting the facts about COVID-19. The videos are available on the PHN facebook page alongside other COVID-19 updates and information.

More general information and the latest updates about COVID-19 are available from the PHN web page Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Latest Information. This includes:

  • Testing Clinics
  • Information for General Practices
  • Community Respiratory Clinics
  • Latest COVID-19 statistics

COVID-19 Resources

Programs and Services

Some of the health programs and services we facilitate for our First Nations communities are:

First Nations Health Access Team

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

Lisa Shipley

Aboriginal Culture and Access Manager
Phone Email

Phone Number

0438 184 685 Call now

Ashley Bullock

Aboriginal Health Access Officer
Phone Email

Phone Number

0447 049 159 Call now

Kristy Vasau

Aboriginal Health Access Officer
Phone Email

Phone Number

0436 656 640 Call now

Malika Riley

Aboriginal Health Access Officer
Phone Email

Phone Number

0457 163 347 Call now

Robbie Watson

Aboriginal Health Access Officer
Phone Email

Phone Number

0447 584 952 Call now

Josh Fuller

Aboriginal Health Community Engagement Officer
Phone Email

Phone Number

0429 232 898 Call now
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 First Nations 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 is available through the links below.

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

First Nations Mental Health

The PHN funds a number of organisations to provide assistance to First Nations 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 First Nations 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 First Nations community.

First Nations Health workforce

First Nations 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 First Nations clients, facilitating communication with First Nations people and communities, and practice administration and management.

Aboriginal Health Practitioner (AHP)

AHP’s provide clinical services to local First Nations 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) offers 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 and Education

Our First Nations Health Access Team can provide free cultural awareness support with an email, phone call or a practice visit. First Nations health can be complex, it is a sensitive area that requires cultural understanding and this is where we can help.

These are the topics we can provide free training on:

  • Integrated Team Care (ITC) Program
  • MNS 715 Health Check
  • CTG PBS Co-Payment
  • Practice Incentive Program (PIP) Indigenous Health Incentive (IHI)
  • Asking the Question (Indigenous Identification)
  • Allied Health
  • Cultural Safety in Primary Care
  • Close the Gap Initiative

Click on the following link to view accredited Cultural Awareness training and education – RACGP accredited cultural awareness training

Online Cultural Awareness Training:

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

MBS 715 Health Check

The 715 Health Check is designed to support the physical, social and emotional wellbeing of First Nations people of all ages. The aim of the 715 health check is to help ensure that First Nations 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.

715 Health Check Resources


PIP Indigenous Health Incentive (IHI) and Chronic Disease Management (CDM)

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.

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 to discuss further details on organising a clinic for your practice

Asking the Question (Indigenous Identification)

Identifying the ethnicity status of people accessing services improves national health and welfare data, contributes to helping ‘Close the Gap’ in outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and helps First Nations people access Indigenous specific health measures designed to overcome health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Most of these health measures can be accessed through General Practitioners.

Asking the Question Resources:

CTG PBS Co-Payment

The CTG PBS Co-Payment Program was established in July 2010 to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with, or at risk of, chronic disease by registering them for the Closing the Gap Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment program. This will mean registered patients can obtain their PBS General Schedule Medication at a concessional rate if they normally pay the full amount and those eligible patients who would normally pay the concessional rate receive their PBS medication without being required to pay an amount.

CTG PBS Co-Payment Resources:


Significant Dates Australian First Nations

This resource is to support primary health care providers enhance the cultural responsiveness of their staff, premises and services.

The ideas included can be used to acknowledge, engage and learn more about some of the dates that are significant to Australia’s First Nations people.

Significant Dates Australian First Nations

Related Resources

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