To develop knowledge, tools and resources that enable end-users (policymakers, services and communities) to reform health and social policy and program implementation, to enhance the capability of health care and other services so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can access timely high quality, culturally competent care.
There is clear evidence that policies and programs in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in Australia could be much more effective. Problems include the complexity of Commonwealth and State/Territory government responsibilities; lack of trust and respect in working relationships among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people and organisations; inadequate and complex funding; competing priorities and fundamental tensions among the many stakeholders regarding policy goals and program methods; and, finally, commitment to policy timelines that are incompatible with the nature of the task.
Uniquely among countries with a similar colonial history, such as New Zealand, Canada and the USA, Australia lacks a legislative base for health programs for Indigenous peoples. This means that health policy and programs are not anchored in defined responsibilities and roles. There is a clear need to build a policy environment that, while building on successes, moves beyond the currently limited ‘business as usual’ approaches.
Building on lessons from the predecessor CRCATSIH Enabling Policy and Systems and Healthy Start, Healthy Life programs the Institute has identified the following initial priorities for this program:
- government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisational relationships
- building and measuring the impact of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community control, and
- health system cultural competence.