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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 a range of services, both clinical and non-clinical, in mainstream services and the community-controlled sector. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Industry Reference Committee (IRC) has responsibility over seven qualifications, packaged in the HLT Health Training Package, aligned to job roles in the following four types of Aboriginal Health Worker categories:

  • Aboriginal Community Health Worker/Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Worker
  • Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer
  • Principal Aboriginal Health Worker
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner; Aboriginal Health Practitioner; Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner.

Information sourced from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker IRC Industry Skills Forecast.

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 2017, there were approximately 1,300 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers, which is projected to grow to 1,800 in 2022.

Training trends

Training snapshot

In 2016 there were 1,617 program enrolments and 319 program completions. Approximately 60% of program enrolments are at the certificate IV level.

Around 54% of training is provided by TAFE institutes and 36% by private providers. The majority of training (86%) is government funded.

Approximately 39% of training is undertaken by students in Queensland. Within Queensland, 33% of students are in the Queensland outback, 22% are in Cairns and 21% 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

Infographic title: Priority skills: 2017 skills forecast,, Infographic data,, "Title: Top priority skills,,Top priority skills, Culturally appropriate service delivery, Language, Literacy and Numeracy, Leadership and multidisciplinary teamwork skills, Communication, Technology skills/IT skills " "Title: Top generic skills,,Managerial/Leadership,,Language, Literacy and Numeracy,,Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and Self-management,,Design mindset/Thinking critically/System thinking/Solving problems,,Communication/Virtual collaboration/Social intelligence " Infographic title: Skills in demand: job vacancies,, "Title: Top generic skills in demand,, Communication Skills, Computer Skills, Organisational Skills, Team Work/ Collaboration, Writing " Infographic source, Priority skills source: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander IRC Skills Forecast and Schedule of Work 2016-17, Job vacancy occupations in demand source: Burning Glass Technologies’ Labor Insight Real Time Labor Market Information tool

Industry insights on skills needs

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker IRC Industry Skills Forecast 2017 identifies a range of factors which have an impact on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker workforce and training needs. These include:

  • The increasing prevalence of chronic diseases has implications for the number of health workers required in the future and also highlights the need to integrate skills and different models of care to ensure optimum treatment
  • High-demand for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers
  • Increasing the proportion of male Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers
  • Increasing the skills of workers from local communities
  • Building a sound understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is an essential part of respecting and integrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers
  • Improving language, literacy and numeracy skills
  • Increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainers and assessors
  • Challenges associated with accessing training and development in regional and remote communities
  • Ensuring training and practice enables the articulation of skills into career pathways
  • Supporting pathways to health careers in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health
  • Clearer ‘articulation pathways’ between VET and higher education qualifications to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers to pursue career development pathways both within their workforce and in other health professions
  • Increasing demand for ‘soft skills’
  • Importance of on-the-job training and work placements.

The top priority skills identified by the Skills Forecast include:

  • culturally appropriate service delivery
  • language, literacy and numeracy
  • leadership and multidisciplinary teamwork skills
  • communication
  • technology skills/IT skills.

These skills are similar to those identified by employers in job vacancies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers:

  • communication skills
  • computer skills
  • organisational skills
  • teamwork and collaboration skills
  • writing skills.

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

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker IRC Industry Skills Forecast

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

 

 

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

United Voice

 

Regulators

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia

 

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment, 2017, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal:

  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations , employment projections to May 2022
    • 4115 Indigenous Health Workers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Employed persons by occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), sex, state and territory, August 1986 onwards 6291.0.55.003 - EQ08, viewed 1 September 2017 <http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202017?OpenDocument>

  • Employed total by ANZSCO 4 digit occupations, 2000 to 2017, 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
    • 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)
    • HLT20113 - Certificate II in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health 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 program enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016 subject enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016 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 2016 commencements
  • 2010 to 2016 completions 
  • 2016 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2016 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Industry Reference Committee’s 2017 Industry Skills Forecast.

Burning Glass Technologies: Labor insight – real-time labor market information tool. <http://www.burning-glass.com>. 2017.

  • Job advertisements from all of Australia from January 2014 to August 2017 are included in the analysis.
  • Skills data has also been extracted from the Burning Glass labour insights job vacancy data tool. Data shown is the proportion of job advertisements which request generic skills for 4115 Indigenous Health Workers.
Updated: 02 Oct 2018
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