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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers

Overview

This page provides information and data on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker workforce.

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers provide culturally safe healthcare to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This includes:

  • advocating for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients in order to explain their needs to other health professionals
  • educating or advising other health professionals on the delivery of culturally safe health care
  • performing a comprehensive primary health care role
  • adapting the roles they perform to local health needs and contexts.   

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Industry Reference Committee (IRC) has responsibility over seven qualifications, packaged in the HLT Health Training Package.

Information sourced from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast (forthcoming).

For information on other health-related training and employment, visit the Health industry page and the various sectors.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

In 2018, there were approximately 1,600 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers. This number is projected to remain steady till 2023.

Training trends

Training snapshot

In 2017 there were 1,883 program enrolments and 326 program completions. Over a half of program enrolments are at the certificate IV level. The destination occupation for all the training was Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker.

Around 63% of training is provided by TAFE institutes and 31% by private providers. The majority of training (83%) is government-funded.

Approximately 53% of training is undertaken by students in Queensland. Within Queensland, 28% of students are in rural Queensland, 17% are in Cairns and 13% are in Townsville.

There were insufficient enrolments in apprenticeships or traineeships to allow analysis.

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s VET Students by Industry.

For more data specific to your region visit NCVER’s Atlas of total VET. If you are prompted to log in, select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

If you are interested in extracting NCVER data to construct tables with data relevant to you, sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast identifies a range of factors which have an impact on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker workforce and training needs. These include:

  • health challenges facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people. These include:
    • physical health challenges such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, sexually transmitted infections and blood-borne viruses
    • mental health and substance abuse issues
    • health issues related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in regional and remote areas
    • the challenge of health care visitation among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community
  • an ageing workforce
  • the detrimental impact of racism affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders within the health system
  • the impacts of family violence which can lead to Aboriginal child removal, homelessness, poverty, poor physical and mental health, misuse of alcohol and drugs and incarceration
  • the health workforce distribution (in terms of local health services) in regional and remote areas
  • state and territory jurisdictional legislation which provides restrictions to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner workers applying skills and knowledge to various parts of their job role.

The top skills areas for Indigenous Health Worker roles mentioned in the Skills Forecast and sourced from Job Outlook include:

  • active listening
  • social perceptiveness
  • speaking
  • critical thinking
  • coordination.

There is some overlap with these skills and those identified in the job vacancies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers:

  • communication skills
  • computer literacy
  • effective communication with Aboriginal people
  • written communication
  • cultural awareness.

Growing our future: the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health worker project final report recommended developing and implementing different options to improve accessibility and flexibility of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker training delivery. The review also recommended raising awareness and improving accessibility of traineeships, apprenticeships and other appropriate funding streams to support training opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to become Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners.

Relevant reports

A Cost Effective Approach to Closing the Gap in Health, Education and Employment: Investing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nursing Education, Training and Employment

Growing Our Future Final Report of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Project

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework 2016–2023

National Framework for Determining Scope of Practice for the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Worker/Health Practitioner Workforce

NSW Health Good Health - Great Jobs: Aboriginal Workforce Strategic Framework 2016–2020

WA Health Aboriginal Workforce Strategy 2014–2024

Workforce Development Strategy 2018-2020

 

 

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.

Government departments and agencies

State and territory health departments

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Working Group (a cross-jurisdictional committee working under the Council of Australian Governments – COAG)

Peak and industry associations

Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of New South Wales

Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia

Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation   

Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

Health professionals’ organisations

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association

Employee associations

Health Services Union

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation

United Voice

Regulators

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia

 

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment, 2018, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal:

  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2023
    • 4115 Indigenous Health Workers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Employed persons by occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), Sex, State and Territory, August 1986 onwards 6291.0.55.003 - EQ08, viewed 1st November 2018 <http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202018?OpenDocument>

  • Employed total by ANZSCO 4 digit occupations, 2000 to 2018, May quarter
    • 4115 Indigenous Health Workers.                                                                                  

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • HLT Health Training Package
    • HLT20113 - Certificate II in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care
    • HLT21307 - Certificate II in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care
    • HLT21312 - Certificate II in Aboriginal and-or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care
    • HLT30113 - Certificate III in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care
    • HLT33207 - Certificate III in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care
    • HLT33212 - Certificate III in Aboriginal and-or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care
    • HLT40113 - Certificate IV in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care
    • HLT40213 - Certificate IV in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care Practice
    • HLT43907 - Certificate IV in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care (Practice)
    • HLT44007 - Certificate IV in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health (Community Care)
    • HLT50113 - Diploma of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care
    • HLT50213 - Diploma of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care Practice
    • HLT52107 - Diploma of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care (Practice)
    • HLT52207 - Diploma of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health (Community Care)

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 program enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 program completions.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document. 

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

HLT Health Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2010 to 2017 commencements
  • 2010 to 2017 completions 
  • 2017 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2017 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2018, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2018, <https://www.burning-glass.com>.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2015 and June 2018 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

ANZSCO occupations have been used as industry filters because they provide more relevant job vacancy data for this sector.

  • Generic skills / Occupations/Employers
    • 4115 Indigenous Health Workers.
Updated: 18 Dec 2018
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