A successful program to help overcome critical health workforce shortages in the Northern Territory has placed its 5000th health professional.
The Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC) has given thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people ready access to much-needed health care, from general practice to hearing services.
Presenting Victorian Audiologist Dr Vikki Tselepis with the 5000th placement certificate, Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM, said the RAHC played a pivotal role in addressing the shortfall in heath service delivery in remote NT communities.
“This highly successful initiative continues to grow, attracting, recruiting and supporting health professionals to undertake short-term placements,” Minister Wyatt said.
“I congratulate RAHC and Aspen Medical on this significant milestone and for their dedication to providing quality care.
“Without the RAHC, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people would have to go without, or delay health care services, or travel considerable distances to access care.
“Delivering affordable and sustainable universal healthcare for all Australians is a Government priority, and we must work together to address the cultural and systemic barriers that exist.
“This means investing in a system that is equipped and able to provide culturally safe and respectful care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
Since 2008, the RAHC program has expanded from 100 health professional placements annually to more than 660 in 2016–2017. Current Government funding is $18 million (2015-16 to 2017-18).
Dr Tselepis says she has a profound respect for Aboriginal people and their culture and is inspired by her role in helping children grow up feeling strong and empowered.
“There is no doubt the program’s expansion has been helped by the 80 per cent repeat rate, with the majority of these mainly urban-based health workers regularly returning to undertake additional placements across the Territory,” said Minister Wyatt.
“For instance, Vikki has undertaken 17 RAHC placements, including the centres of Galiwinku, Gapuwiyak, Santa Teresa and Wadeye.
“While I am confident more local indigenous health professionals will be trained and live on country, it is vital that health staff like Vikki continue their work, making a huge practical contribution to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
Source: Australian Government