St Vincent’s has a long and proud history of caring for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
‘Positioned as we are in Fitzroy, where many social and political Aboriginal organisations were founded, St Vincent’s has actively sought to identify with Aboriginal patients in the community, who experience poorer health overall than other Australians,’ says Toni Mason, the Manager of the Aboriginal Health Unit.
The Aboriginal Health Unit positions St Vincent’s as a leader in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare and research in a hospital setting, bringing together the Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer (AHLO) program, and quality improvement, cultural awareness, training and cadetships.
Improving Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Patients
Engagement and partnerships
- A Memorandum of Understanding with the Royal Eye and Ear Hospital was established, with the aim of strengthening Aboriginal Health Programs
- The Mental Health Unit has a partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service, Family Counselling Service to ensure culturally appropriate care of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers accessing this service
- The Aboriginal Health Unit enables St Vincent’s to further build on our great work in Aboriginal Health, overseeing AHLOs, quality improvement projects, research and programs to increase capacity to deliver better culturally appropriate care
- We are about to launch our 2019-2021 Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan, which has targets to continue to achieve a more culturally safe environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients
- Ongoing external funding maintains St Vincent’s opportunity to employ, nurture and train Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to gain future employment at St Vincent’s. We were successful in receiving funding for four Aboriginal Allied Health and two nursing cadet positions, as well as being funded for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Graduate and Cadetships Network Coordinator position that supports the network state wide
- SVHA has funded a one hour Cultural Awareness eLearning program for all staff to complete. Content was developed by a national Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training provider, in consultation with SVHA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff. This program is currently being rolled out to all sites via work day.
Systems of care
- The Aboriginal Health Unit and Social Work Department worked collaboratively to develop a ‘Close the Gap’ sticker for in-patient files. These stickers have the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags, AHLO and Social Worker contact details, Close the Gap registration details and transport requirements. This information assists medical treating teams readily identify the AHLO to discuss considerations for discharge planning and to ensure medications provided at discharge are provide free of charge. Feedback about the ‘Close the Gap’ stickers has been positive. Staff have commented that the sticker is visually appealing and key staff contacts are easy to find.
Presentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment
St Vincent’s currently employs 39 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff members, which represents 0.64% of the total workforce of more than 5,800 people. With a stated target of 1.2% of staff to be Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, by 2019, we are currently 34 employees short.
We are committed to improving the employment experience and opportunities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. We have adopted the Prime Minister’s Employment Parity Initiative, which aims to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment in the health sector to 3% by 2020.
To help achieve this, St Vincent’s is continuing to action our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy 2016-18. The emphasis within this plan is the introduction of new career pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees that are sustainable and rewarding for both the individual and organisation.
We recently announced new Sub-KPIs as part of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy moving forward. These KPIs include Directorate-specific Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment targets, application process time KPIs, and Cultural Awareness and Cultural Safety Training KPIs.
Each Directorate has met with the HR & Indigenous Program Specialist and developed Directorate-specific strategies to meet their targets across 2018-2019. This includes a unanimous directive from the Executive Leadership Team to target all positions across St Vincent’s for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recruitment.
We have seen a decrease in the annual attrition rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff.
Attrition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff across this period has been increasingly due to our staff choosing to take skills learned at St Vincent’s back into the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Despite the attrition in our staff numbers, St Vincent’s considers this a great result and supports our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff in pursuing opportunities that contribute positively to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.