The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO).
The MoU is driven by a shared commitment to support the growth of the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors and ensure GPs are equipped to provide clinically and culturally appropriate primary healthcare.
The signing ceremony in Darwin was attended by the Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt, RACGP Vice President Associate Professor Dr Ayman Shenouda, NACCHO Acting Chairperson Ms Donnella Mills and RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Deputy Chair Dr Angela Forrest.
Dr Nespolon said that MoU would continue the strong connection between the two organisations.
“This partnership is the next step in the two organisations’ collaborative work to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“The signing of our original MoU in 2014 was a milestone event in our relationship. Since then the work we have done together has grown and grown.”
The RACGP President said the partnership with NACCHO was very important to the RACGP.
“NACCHO and RACGP bring different areas of expertise that enhance what we can achieve together.”
Dr Nespolon also noted that the RACGP’s General Practice: Health of the Nation 2019 report provides a useful context for working with NACCHO improve the healthcare provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“70% of GPs working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health intend to work for at least another 10 years, which is a great sign. However, two in five of these GPs report difficulties sourcing or retaining high-quality staff - so there are challenges right in front of us.”
Associate Professor Dr Peter O’Mara, Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, said that the MoU would help ensure a culturally safe healthcare experience for patients.
“We shouldn’t just aim for high-quality healthcare, we need culturally responsive care too. That is why this MoU is so vital, GPs who are trained to delivery culturally safe healthcare to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are better doctors.
“The RACGP is a strong advocate for Aboriginal community control and the strengths of the sector in delivering high quality healthcare.”
RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Deputy Chair Dr Angela Forrest echoed these sentiments.
“The RACGP and NACCHO recognise that everyone has the right to access healthcare that meets their needs and that is free of discrimination. This new MOU is a positive step forward and I’m proud to be here today.”
Improving access to healthcare is critical to address sustained health disparities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.
The RACGP and NACCHO have previously collaborated on the National Guide to a preventative health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – a flagship publication, spearheaded by NACCHO, now in its third edition.
Over 4,000 copies of the National (third edition) have been distributed nation-wide and it has been downloaded more than 5,000 times.