Learning from action: Management of Aboriginal health services

This project used an action learning and research approach to develop understanding of management practices in Aboriginal Health Services; to share and build knowledge and skills; and to develop a research agenda. The study focused on the real-life experiences of problems and challenges faced by managers in 12 Aboriginal Health Services.

Managers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services in Queensland met with the project team four times during 2005 for 2–3 day workshops. Each workshop involved a formal seminar, a ‘learning set’ meeting, data collection and discussion of the research. All participants agreed to keep their discussions confi dential, so that there was a safe environment for sharing and learning.

Participants could also enrol in a postgraduate subject at La Trobe University and have the workshops count as classes. Three people enrolled, undertook written work related to the problems they discussed at meetings and received academic credit. Everyone who participated in the workshops also received a certifi cate from La Trobe University and the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC), the peak body for community-controlled health services in Queensland.

Main messages: 

  • The Aboriginal health sector needs supportive infrastructure (including appropriately designed training and education curricula) for good management and governance practice that is appropriate to the range of size, resources, geography and location of the organisations.
  • The design of health services management training and education curricula need to reflect the real life experiences, challenges and issues of managers in this context and address the broader range of issues confronting managers in the Aboriginal health sector.
  • Effective partnerships between educational institutions and the Aboriginal health sector are fundamental to developing supportive educational infrastructure.
Related resources:

Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land across Australia and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.