Indigenous Registrar Support Program
The RACGP Foundation are supporting the National Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander general practitioners, by providing a support package to those GP registrars who are sitting their professional medical exam.
Key Community Benefits
The Indigenous Registrar Support Program aims to provide a package of support to Indigenous Registrars to increase the likelihood of these Registrars sitting and passing their professional exam and ultimately being able to practice as general practitioners in the community.
The poor status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is well documented. The burden of disease experienced by Indigenous Australians is estimated to be two and a half times the burden of disease in the wider Australian population. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people also experience higher death rates than non-Indigenous Australians across all age groups, from all major causes of death. Aboriginal life expectancy is 11-17 years shorter than non-indigenous life expectancy.
Importantly, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has reported that Indigenous Australians experience lower levels of access to health services than the general population, attributed to factors such as proximity, availability and cultural appropriateness of health services, transport availability, health insurance and health services affordability, and language difficulties.
Whilst not the whole answer to these issues, an increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors is certainly critical to lifting overall health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Indigenous patients are more inclined to access the health system if they feel supported and understood. Indigenous doctors have first hand experience of the social, cultural, and economic factors involved in Indigenous health, and Indigenous doctors share a level of trust with their patients by bringing this culturally sensitive approach to their practice of medicine. They also act as role models for other people in the Aboriginal community.
One of the keys to improving the health of Indigenous people in Australia is the provision of accessible, affordable, comprehensive primary health care services, and yet of the 153 Indigenous medical practitioners in Australia, only 40 are general practitioners. This Program aims to increase the number of practicing GP's from an Indigenous background, thereby enhancing the provision of high quality primary health services to the Indigenous population.