Health workers upskilled to help close the gap

Published Tuesday, 23 August, 2016 at 05:49 PM

Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
The Honourable Cameron Dick

Health professionals will be better supported to deliver culturally-appropriate healthy lifestyle advice to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities thanks to a new training program.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick announced Menzies School of Health Research had been awarded $2.25 million over three years to deliver the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Brief Intervention Training Program.  

“This program will build the capacity, skills and confidence of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers, community workers and other health professionals,” he said.

“They will be trained to deliver tobacco, nutrition and physical activity brief interventions to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients.”

Mr Dick said Indigenous Queenslanders were more likely to have a higher prevalence of known risk factors for chronic disease compared to non-Indigenous Queenslanders.

“We know smoking rates amongst Indigenous Queenslanders are more than double those of non-Indigenous Queenslanders and maternal smoking rates are more than triple,” he said.

“Indigenous Queenslanders are also around 39 per cent more likely to be obese.

“These risk factors significantly contribute to the burden of disease and injury for Indigenous Queenslanders.”

Mr Dick said there had been small but meaningful improvements in the health of Indigenous Queenslanders over the past decade.

“The life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Queenslanders appears to have narrowed by one year and we are seeing declining death rates for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

“These improvements are leading to better health outcomes but we know there is more work to be done and the Palaszczuk Government is committed to continuing its efforts to close the gap in Queensland.”

Mr Dick said a key priority of the government’s Making Tracks strategy was to address the risk factors for chronic disease, with a particular focus on smoking and obesity. 

“We will only achieve this by increasing access to health services while ensuring our workforce is trained to deliver culturally-appropriate services,” he said.

“This training program will better equip our health workers and providers to increase client understanding about the risk factors of chronic disease and refer to appropriate lifestyle services.”

Mr Dick said Menzies School of Health Research was a national leader in Indigenous health research, education and capacity development.

“Menzies were successful through an open tender process to deliver this statewide training program, which will commence by the end of the year,” he said.

Mr Dick said the funding would be made available through the Department of Health’s Making Tracks Investment Strategy 2015-2018.

“This strategy, which I released last year, provides for more than $200 million over the next three years to continue efforts towards closing the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Queenslanders by 2033,’’ he said.

“Making Tracks is underpinned by a commitment to working in partnership across government and with non-government service providers.

“This also aligns with the Palaszczuk Government’s recently released 10-year vision and strategy for health — My health, Queensland’s future: Advancing health 2026.

“Among its priorities, our vision aims to increase life expectancy for Indigenous males by 4.8 years and females by 5.1 years.’’

The statewide training program will be delivered in all Queensland Hospital and Health Services at no cost to all government and non-government health service providers who enrol in the program.



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