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New health traineeship launched to help close the gap

Dechlan Brennan -

A new health traineeship program has been launched, enabling more than 190 First Nations healthcare trainees to embark on a transformative journey.

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) have launched the First Nations Health Worker Traineeship (FNHWT) program, which will aim to certify up to 500 Indigenous individuals as either Aboriginal Health Workers or Aboriginal Health Practitioners by 2027.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills said the FNHWT program both strengthened pathways for existing members of the workforce, and opened doors for members of the community to begin a career in health.

"Community controlled RTOs (Registered training organisations) like the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia, provide the backbone of this program, developing a robust Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce and providing culturally embedded training, which is a central part to strong completion rates," Ms Mills said.

The training will be delivered by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Registered Training Organisations (ACCHRTOs), and involves on-the-job experience, ideally on Country.

This is designed to address the workforce shortages in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). The program is designed by Indigenous organisations in a "genuine" partnership with the government.

"This Traineeship program emphasises our commitment to investing in the invaluable work of our RTOs and supporting ACCHOs to provide clinical placements for students," Ms Mills said. "Together, we continue to shape a resilient and culturally competent healthcare workforce for our communities."

As part of the $54.3 million program, NACCHO has developed a holistic traineeship framework for ACCHOs to partner with ACCHRTOs. This will ensure culturally safe academic support for trainees.

Assistant Minister for Indigenous health, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, attended the launch of the program on Kaurna Country at the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia. The Senator said on Thursday she was pleased to meet the students and different organisations involved in the program.

"Over the coming years, communities around the country will enjoy the benefits of more First Nations health workers providing culturally safe, quality care," Senator McCarthy said.

"By holistically and fully supporting trainees, this program is setting them up for success.

"They will go on to jobs across the health system and help grow the capacity of mainstream services to better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients."

Alongside the FNHWT program, NACCHO said they had initiated a demonstration project designed to increase the training and assessing of workforce within ACCHRTOs.

NACCHO said the project was designed to "address the increasing demand for broader qualifications, across social and emotional wellbeing, counselling, mental health, and community services" which are limited due to a shortage across the board of qualified Indigenous VET trainers and assessors.

More information about the program can be found online.

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