Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health


The Closing the Health Gap Campaign was initiated in 2006 in response to the Social Justice Report 2005 which called for the governments of Australia to commit to achieving equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the areas of health and life expectancy within a generation (25 years).

To monitor change, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) set the following measurable targets to monitor improvements in the health and wellbeing of the Indigenous population:

  • Close the life expectancy gap within a generation (by 2031);
  • Halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five within a decade (by 2018);
  • Ensure access to early childhood education for all Indigenous four year olds in remote communities within five years (by 2013);
  • Halve the gap in reading, writing and numeracy achievements for children within a decade (by 2018);
  • Halve the gap for Indigenous students in year 12 attainment rates (by 2020); and
  • Halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade (by 2018).

Sustained negative impacts upon the social determinants of health continue to result in poor outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, their families and communities.  The recent Closing the Gap Prime Minister’s Report 2015 found that there had been limited progress to closing the gap in life expectancy within a generation.


The Inner North West Primary Care Partnership (INWPCP) is committed to engaging with and supporting our local partners to provide better and more effective health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

With support and guidance from a network of agencies committed to health service reform (currently known as the NW Koolin Balit Wellbeing Partnership), the INWPCP has conducted a range of activities to determine the extent to which health services within the catchment are meeting the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This information is summarised in the Inner North West Metropolitan Region: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s Health Consumer Perspectives Report and provides the evidence base for further activities conducted in 2013 and 2014 such as:

  • Cultural awareness training for community health sector employees and management;
  • Developing a  training package for health staff to improve identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service users incorporating:
    1. training resource on ‘Asking the Question’
    2. a short DVD on ‘Asking the Question’
    3. a Trainer’s Guide on ‘Asking the Question’
    4. a Powerpoint presentation for staff training
  • Developing a Guide: Helping your organisation to create a welcoming environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
  • Developing graphic design elements for member agencies to use when developing targeted resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service users; and
  • In collaboration with an Aboriginal Consultant, conducting cultural auditing activities with identified agencies and working with agencies to implement a tailored action plan for improving cultural competency.


In 2014 the Department of Health and Human Services funded four primary care partnerships across Melbourne’s north west to continue implementing activities to Close the Health Gap  for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The four primary care partnerships are:

  • Inner North West Primary Care Partnership
  • Hume/Whittlesea Primary Care Partnership
  • North East Primary Care Partnership
  • HealthWest Partnership

The INWPCP is participating in this project by conducting activities to support health services to become more culturally aware and responsive – including workforce development to support the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal employees.

For further information or to participate in this project please contact the INW PCP Executive Officer, Emma Fitzsimon on 9389 2261 or by email emmfi@inwpcp.org.au