Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

Since 2012 INW PCP has conducted a range of initiatives (through Closing the Health Gap and Koolin Balit funding rounds) to support partner organisations to provide culturally responsive and respectful services to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

The below interactive timeline maps our journey towards improving cultural responsiveness in the INW catchment and contains links to many of the resources developed by the Koolin Balit Wellbeing Partnership.


Wellbeing Partnership

The INW PCP convened a local Wellbeing Partnership which met regularly to share information, resources, and project updates. The partnership was made up of Aboriginal and non-indigenous representatives from across the North and West Metropolitan Region. The group was an important sounding board for the INW PCP led initiatives and a source of advice for resource development, training and projects.


Workforce Initiatives

The INW PCP in collaboration with the Wellbeing Partnership implemented the following workforce initiatives:

  • Training to build the capacity of mainstream agencies to employ and retain Aboriginal staff (the Working with Aboriginal People and Programs) delivered by VACCHO.
  • The  Walk With Us resource video alerts CEOs, Boards and managers to factors impacting on Aboriginal people who work in their organisation and guidance on how to address those factors. As well as addressing a major information gap, the project created a paid acting, interviewing and video resource production opportunity for a young Koorie journalism student.
  • Developed the From Symbols to Systems Framework for supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workers in mainstream organisations.


Working in Two Worlds

Aboriginal people working in mainstream organisations report that they are still regularly exposed to culturally based hazards. These hazards impact their personal health and wellbeing and undermine their ability to support their community.

The Working in Two Worlds initiative aims to assist mainstream organisations become more accessible, culturally safe and appropriate for Aboriginal people by supporting the recruitment and retention of the local Aboriginal workforce.

A Working in Two Worlds Forum was held in 2017 with over 60 Aboriginal people employed in mainstream organisations. The participants shared their thoughts, concerns and ideas about how mainstream health and community service sector work impacts them and how employers can more effectively support Aboriginal workers.

The feedback from Working in Two Worlds Forum participants, alongside an examination of current policy frameworks, helped to inform the first iteration of the From Symbols to Systems Framework which was launched in December 2017.  A refined version of this Framework was launched in 2019.

 In June 2018, INW PCP won a HART award (VLGA and Reconciliation Victoria) for the Working in Two Worlds Initiative.


From Symbols to Systems

The From Symbols to Systems Framework presents cultural security templates to guide mainstream health, community and justice organisations to improve cultural security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and staff. It includes a ‘How to’ guide and a self-assessment tool with suggested actions that organisations can complete to identify what they are doing well and areas for improvement. The Excel spreadsheets can be used to collate results from the self-assessment process and monitor progress.  Commitments and Actions

This iteration of the Framework was developed following the From Symbols to Systems Pilot Project, which Garralak Consulting was commissioned to support. The aim of this project was to test the accessibility and usability of the cultural security templates and support organisations to use the framework to improve cultural security in their organisation. Evaluation of the pilot project identified that the framework’s language and structure needed to be refined and simplified.

The full evaluation report of the pilot project is available to read here

For more information about From Symbols to Systems, please contact INW PCP A/Executive Officer, Rebecca Morgan on Tel (03) 9389 2249 or email RebeccaM@inwpcp.org.au