Aboriginal Health

Aboriginal Health Strategy

Aboriginal Health Strategy is a North Metropolitan Health Service (NMHS)-wide service responsible for the development and delivery of Aboriginal strategic programs across Sir Charles Gairdner, Osborne Park, King Edward Memorial and Graylands Hospitals, and Joondalup Health Campus.

Aboriginal Health Strategy aims to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal people through improving access to culturally secure services, promoting engagement of Aboriginal community and consumers and increasing the Aboriginal representation in the NMHS workforce.

Aboriginal Health Strategy reports to the Executive Director Mental Health, Public Health and Dental Services and ultimately to the NMHS Chief Executive and NMHS Board.

Aboriginal Health Strategy develops the following programs and initiatives:

Community engagement

Working together to build a stronger future

Respectful, meaningful and equitable relationships lead to better understanding and communication. This in turn results in quality individual and group experiences and ultimately improved health outcomes.

Fostering strong relationships through meaningful and effective consultation between all staff and Aboriginal people helps NMHS to:

  • Further enhance the level of understanding and respect for Aboriginal people and culture
  • Provide Aboriginal people with ownership and the decision-making power required to improve the health status of Aboriginal people
  • Improve networking and sharing of information to ensure access to quality health services.

Peer Review Meetings

As part of our Community Engagement, we hold half-yearly Peer Review meeting where there is a chance for Aboriginal community members residing in the North Metropolitan Health Service region to attend and contribute.

Aboriginal Cultural Advisory Group

North Metropolitan Health Service proudly has an Aboriginal Cultural Advisory Group, the group currently consist of 15 Aboriginal Elders and provides cultural direction and protocols on Aboriginal Health matters on behalf of the Aboriginal Community of the NMHS region.

Cultural Security

The North Metropolitan Health Service (NMHS) aims to provide culturally secure health services throughout the North Metropolitan region to achieve positive health outcomes for Aboriginal patients.

The Aboriginal Health Division is committed to providing cultural learning programs and initiatives to extent on the levels of cultural knowledge of staff and stakeholders allowing appropriate cultural support and care for Aboriginal patients.

The WA Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Framework 2015 – 2030 identifies key guiding principles, strategy and priority areas for the next 15 years, to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people in Western Australia.

This framework has a long-term agenda and encourages an approach for WA Health, the health sector and other key stakeholders to adopt and guide future activities for Aboriginal people in WA.

Establishment of a cultural security framework:

  • To deliver culturally secure health services to Aboriginal people in the NMHS.
  • Working towards sustainable and effective change for improved long term Aboriginal Health outcomes.
  • Making ‘Aboriginal health everyone’s business’
  • Aboriginal people living long, well and healthy lives.

For more information, please contact Aboriginal Health Division on (08) 9380 7758.

Impact Statement Declaration

An Aboriginal Health Impact Statement and Declaration (ISD) ensures that the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people of Western Australian are continually improving. WA Health employees and teams are required to apply the principles of an Aboriginal Health ISD for the Department of Health and Health Service Providers before preparing new or revised health policies, strategies, programs, practices or procedures.

An ISD demonstrates that the health impacts on Aboriginal people have been considered and appropriately incorporated into relevant health initiatives.

Aboriginal Workforce

Reducing inequalities in health and maximising health outcomes

North Metropolitan Health Service is committed to building a representative, skilled Aboriginal health workforce across all occupational groups and levels. This will be achieved through a variety of employment and appropriate career pathway opportunities.

The WA Health Aboriginal Workforce Policy states that we are working towards an Aboriginal workforce target of 3.2 per cent of the workforce being comprised of Aboriginal people. To achieve this, WA Health has set the goal of recruiting 100 additional Aboriginal employees per year. The policy also includes six mandated initiatives:

  1. Prioritises the offer of junior medical officer places to Aboriginal medical graduates in Western Australia.
  2. Prioritises the offer of nurse and midwife graduate places to Aboriginal nurse and midwife graduates in Western Australia.
  3. Quarantine two WA Health Graduate Development Program places for Aboriginal graduates in Western Australia.
  4. Develop and implement Aboriginal Traineeship and Cadetship programs in each health service.
  5. Identify positions to employ Aboriginal cadets, trainees and graduates on completion of their program.
  6. Provide opportunities for Aboriginal people to develop individual capacity to competitively apply for permanent positions. This may include opportunities for appointments to fixed term contracts that are less than six months subject to WA Health Policy requirements.



Contact us

Workforce Consultant - Aboriginal Employment

Tel: (08) 6457 7876

Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Program

The dedicated team of Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officers provide a service to Sir Charles Gairdner and Osborne Park Hospitals.

Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officers are in the hospital setting and provide a range of services based on the support needs required for Aboriginal in-patients and their families. Providing culturally appropriate care and support through the patients journey whilst in hospital.

The program aims to:

  • Improve in-patient comfort and wellbeing
  • Provide better communication between hospital staff and patient
  • Inform patients of resources and benefits available
  • Advocate on behalf of the patient
  • Linkage to GP services and community health programs.

This service has been designed specifically for Aboriginal patients and their families to assist in:

  • AHLO contact at hospital admission
  • Social and cultural support to Aboriginal in-patients and families
  • Advocacy and interpreter support
  • Discharge planning support, including referring of patients to appropriate health care.

Contact us

Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer
Tel: (08) 6457 6355
Fax: (08) 6457 6356
Hours: 8.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday
Location: S
ir Charles Gairdner Hospital, E Block, Ground Floor, Watling Walk, Hospital Ave, Nedlands WA 6009


Improve Aboriginal children Immunisation rates in Metropolitan area health services

Aboriginal childhood immunisation coverage in the Perth metropolitan region is less than that of the total population. Immunisation coverage in the 12 to <15-month age cohort of Aboriginal children in Perth reported on 31 March 2018 was 85% compared with 94% for the total population in this age group. Public Health has implemented several strategies to provide equity access to vaccines and immunisation services to Aboriginal families, one of those strategies is employing an Aboriginal Health Liaison Officer. The Aboriginal Health Liaison Officer targets Aboriginal children identified as being overdue for their immunisations, working with a monthly list of overdue children provide by MCDC Epi team, checking the children’s records on AIR for data errors and identifying which immunisation are overdue, getting in contact with the families offering assistance to link families in with immunisation providers and more recently in partnership with Child and Adolescent Health Service (CAHS) immunisation nurse  provides vaccinations in the family home for overdue Aboriginal children.

Since the Aboriginal Health Liaison Officer commenced in 2018 there has been an increase in the immunisation coverage rates across all cohorts including the increase of 12 to <15-month age cohort rates by 4.68%. We are closer to closing the gap and reaching the target goal of 95%.

Ischaemic Heart Disease Lighthouse project

Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (SCGH) is one of five WA hospitals tackling the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples - acute coronary syndrome (ACS) through the Lighthouse Hospital Project.

The Lighthouse Hospital Project, founded by the Heart Foundation and the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, focused on addressing inequalities in relation to the presentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with ACS (heart attack or severe angina) to hospital. At present, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are three times more likely to have a heart attack and are dying from cardiovascular disease at almost twice the rate of non-Indigenous Australians.

The Lighthouse Hospital Project produced a Healing Journey Book to address this.

Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Project

The Aboriginal Health Liaison Program (AHLP) service delivery model is to improve the patient journey for Aboriginal patients presenting at NMHS hospitals and linking patients to external primary health providers to assist in the reduction of hospital readmissions and continuity of care upon discharge.

  1. Rate of Aboriginal patients that discharge from an acute care setting against medical advice has dropped to 1%: During this reporting period (June-Dec 2019) the Aboriginal Hospital Liaison service has significantly reduced the total number of potential Discharges Against Medical Advice (DAMA) from occurring. DAMAs are prevented by the Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officers utilising their culturally appropriate liaison and advocacy skills, together with the AHLO’s understanding of issues facing Aboriginal people in the acute care setting. Denominator figure is total Aboriginal in-patients offered the AHLO service (excluding weekends, after hour admissions and does not include out-patient services). Numerator figure is total DAMA event for reporting period.
  2. Proportion of Aboriginal patients in an acute care facility seen by an AHLO within 24 hours of admission (excluding weekend admission) – 70% AHLO seen total of 703 Aboriginal inpatients within the 6-month period (June-Dec 2019).
  3. Proportion of Aboriginal inpatients in the AHLO program who receive 2 or more visits during their stay in hospital – 64%. Every patient registered with the AHLO service participates in an Initial Assessment (contact) with the respective Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer upon admission.  Each patient has the right to opt-out of the AHLO service.

Aboriginal Liaison Officer at KEMH supports Aboriginal patients and their families, liaises between Aboriginal patients, family and Hospital Staff and works part of a multi-disciplinary team.

NMHS Aboriginal Health Wellbeing Action Plan 2018-2020

The NMHS prepared and implemented an Action Plan aligned to the Implementation Guide for the WA Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Framework 2015-2030 (PDF) for the period 2018-2020. Development of the Action Plan assists services to address the WA Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Framework 2015-2030 six strategic directions and work towards the performance measures and targets that relate to Aboriginal people. NMHS are currently towards the end of the Action Plan and all services with the support of the Aboriginal Health Division have achieved some great outcomes.

Some of the great work that NMHS Services are achieving and working towards:


  • Established and provided the ‘Healthy Tucker’ Menu as an option on the Hospital menu.
  • Implement strategies that maximise Aboriginal women’s access to cervical and breast screening and increase Aboriginal women’s knowledge of the importance of regular screening. Aboriginal Health Promotion Officers at WA Cervical Cancer Prevention program and BreastScreen WA are key drivers for the advocacy, representation, education and training, health promotion, conference presentations, community workshops, publications and policy development. Aboriginal specific print resources have been developed and distributed with community consultation and endorsement including the development and implementation of a cervical screening and breast screening flipchart.
  • Implementing the Aboriginal Volunteer Program at KEMH: Women and Infants Research Foundation (WIRF) in partnership with Women’s Health Strategy and Programs (WHSP) have recruited three Aboriginal volunteers to assist in culturally welcoming Aboriginal patients at the hospital to feel less isolated in a clinical environment.


  • Implement strategies that increase access to primary prevention, services for screening, early detection, treatment and management of chronic disease issues including the successful National Heart Foundation Lighthouse Project.
  • Deliver culturally secure strategies and services that promote positive social and emotional wellbeing in partnership with Aboriginal Health Division the Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Project has been successfully implemented and embedded at SCGH.

Public Health:

  • Improving immunisation rates for Aboriginal children: Public Health have implemented a project in partnership with EMHS and CAHS in regard to improving the Aboriginal children immunisation rates.  An Aboriginal Health Liaison Officer works with a CACH nurse to initiate contact, engage with the families, offer home visits and link the families up to the appropriate Health service.
  • Health Promotion is strengthening the partnerships and collaborating with local Aboriginal organisations through a number of projects including Balga Boodja Project, One Voice Mirrabooka and Social Inclusion Mirrabooka which all have strong representation of local Aboriginal organisations and local government.
  • Health Promotion works with Aboriginal communities and stakeholders to develop and implement strategies that maximise Aboriginal participation in prevention and early intervention programs: The Ironbark project – Aboriginal Falls Prevention Program in partnership with Curtin University and Wadjuk Northside Commuinty Centre has been running for 18 months and aims to improve strength and balance to prevent falls.


  • DHS have produced several culturally appropriate information, tools and resources for older Aboriginal men and women, youth, pregnant mothers, children and babies.
  • Promote partnerships between Aboriginal Medical Services/ Aboriginal Health Services to embed community participation in the implementation of improved accessibility to Dental Services, for example DHS has developed a MOU with AMS in providing General Dental care.


  • Learning and Development has been promoting and supporting access of the completion of the WA Health Aboriginal Cultural eLearning Program – a healthier future with NMHS currently sitting at 86% with all employees completing the online learning module.
  • Workforce has been using Section 50(d) and 51 of the Equal Opportunity Act (EOA)1984 as targeted measures to achieve equality and increase diversity in the workforce: Section 51 EOA has been applied to all NMHS vacancies, with information sessions ran late last year.
  • Workforce has conducted two Aboriginal Employment forums as a means to embed a support network, peer mentoring and provide information, training and leadership development.


  • Provide Culturally appropriate aged care model, including palliative care and end of life decision making: OPH has formed a relationship with Derbal Yerrigan Health Service with sharing services and education sessions and setting up a referral pathway that identifies Aboriginal patients.
  • Work with Aboriginal community to promote the uptake and engagement with Telehealth Services: OPH has partnered with Telehealth and Derbal Yerrigan Health Service with discussing the referrals being completed through Telehealth.

Contact us

Tel: (08) 9380 7758
Email: HealthUnit.Aboriginal@health.wa.gov.au
Location: 54 Salvado Road, Wembley WA 6014 

Last Updated: 31/05/2024