NSW Health commitment and priorities

Increasing the Aboriginal health workforce supports the economic and social wellbeing of Aboriginal people and enables us to provide culturally safe and accessible health services.

Aboriginal health

One perspective of Aboriginal health takes a holistic view or whole-of-life approach to social and emotional wellbeing which includes the physical, social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of the community.

This differs from an illness or clinical perspective, recognising the importance of connection to land, culture, spirituality, ancestry, family and community, and how these affect the individual.

Aboriginal people are best placed to determine and define the mechanics of support, assistance and delivery of health needs for Aboriginal individuals and communities to understand the importance of engaging local Aboriginal community members.

The health of Aboriginal people of NSW: Report of the Chief Health Officer 2012 NSW Ministry of Health

Social determinants of health

The social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. The unacceptable level of health disadvantage still being experienced by many Aboriginal people highlights that there is much still to be done, particularly using a whole-of-government approach to increase the life expectancy and quality of life for Aboriginal people.

The social and emotional well-being of Aboriginal people is affected by a range of social determinants of health. These include:

  • Inter-generational trauma
  • Institutional and individual discrimination and racism
  • Lower income and standards of living
  • Poor quality and over-crowded housing and community infrastructure
  • Poor outcomes in health, education, employment and the justice system

Cultural determinants of health

The cultural determinants of health include:

  • Self-determination
  • Freedom from institutional and individual discrimination and racism
  • Individual and collective rights
  • Freedom from assimilation and destruction of culture
  • Protection from removal / relocation
  • Connection to, custodianship and utilisation of country and traditional lands
  • Reclamation, revitalisation, preservation and promotion of language and cultural practices
  • Protection and promotion of Traditional Knowledge and Aboriginal Intellectual Property
  • Understanding of lore, law and traditional roles and responsibilities

Improving Aboriginal health and wellbeing

  • Employment and income are important for self-esteem, opportunities for self-development, participation in the community, living standards, and social and emotional wellbeing
  • The Public Service Commission recently reported that Aboriginal employment in NSW Health has risen to 2.1 per cent from 1.9 per cent in 2013
  • NSW Health is committed to working in partnership with Aboriginal people, community members and other government and non-government agencies to 'Close the Gap' in health outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in NSW
  • In 2009, the NSW Government agreed to a whole-of-government Aboriginal workforce participation to halve the gap in employment outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and achieve a minimum target of 2.6 per cent Aboriginal employment by 2015

NSW Health Aboriginal workforce initiatives

NSW Health is working on a number of initiatives that support the growth of the Aboriginal workforce across clinical, non-clinical and leadership roles.

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