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About the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners are contributing to Closing the Gap in Queensland through the delivery of culturally safe and accessible clinical services.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner is a nationally registered health profession under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner Board of Australia (ATSIHPBA).

The profession is a vital workforce that is culturally and clinically capable, and effectively positioned to meet the health needs of individual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.

From 1 November 2018, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners working in isolated practice areas in Queensland are authorised to use scheduled medicines if agreed in their individual practice plan. Read more about the scheduled medicines authorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners.

What an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner does

An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner is a primary health care professional providing high-quality, culturally-safe, clinical care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners are independent practitioners who work alongside and collaboratively with other clinicians including doctors, nurses, midwives, allied health and oral health practitioners in a range of settings.

They may have a broad individual clinical scope of practice or work in a more specialised role, depending on a range of factors including the individual's qualification and competence, practice location, practice setting, level of supervision, and community need. They can assess, diagnose, treat, educate, and use scheduled medicines depending on their approved individual scope of practice outlined in a practice plan.

Using the title

An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner may also be known as an Aboriginal Health Practitioner, or a Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner. These are protected titles under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.

This means that a person cannot use one of these titles unless they are registered with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner Board of Australia (ATSIHPBA). The National Law has penalties for people who use this title without being registered.

Requirements for registration

Health practitioners must meet the ASTIHPBA registration standards to be considered for registration as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner. These standards require evidence of:

  • identity or acceptance of being an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person
  • completion of the Certificate IV in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care Practice qualification, (or qualification/experience considered equivalent by the ATSIHPBA for applications between 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2015)
  • the English standards requirements
  • the criminal history requirements
  • recency of practice
  • professional indemnity insurance (usually covered under employment arrangements)
  • continuing professional development to apply for renewal of registration.

Visit the ATSIHPBA website for more information.

Benefits of employing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner registration provides public protection with enhanced safety and quality in the delivery of clinical services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

It is a flexible and clinically focused role that is recognised nationally as culturally responsive that works as an independent practitioner and an equally valued member of a multidisciplinary team.

Defining individual scope of practice in the Practice plan will provide clarity of roles, responsibilities, functions and practice boundaries for the individual and other staff.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner role offers a pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers to transition into a new clinical career option with access to structured supervision, support and professional development opportunities.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander positions

The establishment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner positions in the health care team will be determined by the employer based on local workforce planning requirements.

A person must be registered as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner to work in a designated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander position. However, a health practitioner may be required to be registered as part of their position and employment conditions, and not use the protected title.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners working in a position in an isolated practice area and using scheduled medicines, must have an endorsed Practice plan defining scope of practice.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner role is additional and complementary to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers. Health Workers continue to be a valuable part of the health workforce and are recognised as essential in providing primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Contact us

For more information about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner workforce, email ATSIHP@health.qld.gov.au.

Last updated: 5 August 2019