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Australian-first health alliance aiming to Close the Gap

[by Kirsten O'Leary]

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Poche Centre Director Professor James Ward said the Alliance’s work would be transformational, helping to accelerate Australia’s progress towards closing the gap in life expectancy. Image: Metro North Health

Closing the gap in life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will be the focus of an Australian-first new health alliance.

The Research Alliance for Urban Goori Health will unite a research organisation, health service and primary health care provider to improve health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The partnership between UQ’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) and Metro North Health, has identified cancer care, rehabilitation programs and innovative models of care, such as hospital in the home, as priority areas.


“Some of the issues we’re looking to explore is where the health system works well for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, and where it needs to be improved,” Professor Ward said.

“As a Pitjantjatjara and Nukunu man, I know how important it is to ensure our peoples’ voices are at the centre of service design and delivery, to ensure equal access across the healthcare system.”

The life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples born in a major city is approximately eight years shorter when compared to the non-Indigenous population.

The first phase of the project will focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in Brisbane’s northside to understand what the issues are, what barriers they face, and what needs to be fixed.

Institute for Urban Indigenous Health Chief Executive Officer Adrian Carson said the new partnership aims to build the evidence base for the delivery of integrated care across the health system, spanning from primary to public healthcare and back to the community.

“With almost 27,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people residing within the northside of Brisbane, it’s imperative that our sectors work together to address the barriers which exist within the health system that prevent our people from receiving the care they require,” Mr Carson said.

“Through applied research in priority areas, we can invest in healthcare pathways across the continuum of care and life course, which lead to our people living healthier, happier and longer lives.”

Metro North Health Chief Executive Adjunct Professor Jackie Hanson said the Alliance would help achieve health equity.

“We acknowledge there is a lot of work to do to enable integrated and culturally appropriate health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and I’m proud of our commitment to improve health outcomes and close the gap,” Ms Hanson said.

“Metro North Health is very focused on achieving health equity and we are particularly excited about the opportunity to upskill all staff working in Metro North Health to improve cultural responsiveness and remove barriers.”

The Alliance is supported by funding from Queensland Health to achieve health equity via a Health Equity Framework.

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