Health equity discussion paper
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equity—a renewed approach to eliminating unavoidable, unjust and unfair health inequities.
Queensland Health has a long history of supporting First Nations peoples achieve their health aspirations since the release of the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health policy in 1994. Queensland’s public health system has built strong foundations over the last 30 years and since 2017, Queensland Health has accelerated its efforts by driving a health equity reform agenda in response to the release of the ground-breaking Addressing Institutional Barriers to Health Equity for Aboriginal and Torres Islander people in Queensland’s Public Hospital and Health Services report released by the then Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commission (now Queensland Human Rights Commission) and Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC).
Under the leadership of the Chief Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Officer and Deputy Director-General, Queensland Health in partnership with QAIHC is driving a renewed First Nations health equity reform agenda to address the legacy of institutional racism, strengthen relationships with First Nations peoples and implement new approaches to eliminate the avoidable, unjust and unfair health inequities experienced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The voices, leadership and lived experiences of First Nations peoples are driving this agenda.
One of the most significant reforms is the amendment to the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 requiring each Hospital and Health Service (HHS) to develop and implement a Health Equity Strategy in partnership with First Nations peoples and local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health organisations (ATSICCHOs). HHSs will have 12 months to develop and release the strategies after the regulation has been proclaimed by Governor in Council (expected by mid-2021).
The discussion paper
A discussion paper—Making Tracks towards health equity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: working together to achieve life expectancy parity by 2031 (PDF 10227 kB) was released by the Minister for Health and Ambulance Services and the Leader of the House in Queensland, the Hon Yvette D’ath, and the Chairperson of QAIHC, Matthew Cooke, on 17 March 2021. The discussion paper is a historical first because it’s the first time a discussion paper has been co-designed and jointly written between Queensland Health and QAIHC on behalf of ATSICCHOs in Queensland.
The discussion paper is a call to action to generate wider discussions, mobilise effort and build collective support across the health system and society more broadly for a renewed and focused agenda centred on First Nations health equity.
This agenda aims to:
- introduce broader changes and improvements within and across the health system, and
- influence wider changes and improvements to the economic and social conditions in with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples live their lives.
The discussion paper explains what health equity is and how the concept can be applied in practice, outlines the new regulation that will require each HHS to develop a Health Equity Strategy, and puts forwards a number of other ideas and proposals to achieve health equity in the future.
Nine weeks of regional consultations were held across Queensland from April to June in 2021, and written feedback was received via email and survey. Queensland Health, QAIHC and ATSICCHOs had the opportunity to discuss the health equity agenda and other suggestions to drive the agenda forward to improve the social determinants of health.
These discussions helped inform the health equity framework.
Fact sheets on the Making Tracks towards health equity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples discussion paper are available to download:
- Summary leaflet of discussion paper
(PDF 3574 kB)
- The journey so far... building on our foundations in the past and now
(PDF 884 kB)
- Embedding health equity into local health systems... placing First Nations peoples and voices at the centre of healthcare service delivery (PDF 826 kB)
- Driving health equity across the health system and addressing the social and cultural determinants of health... future reforms (PDF 1014 kB)
Video series: What is Health Equity?
Children's Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service
Karina Hogan: Health is all encompassing, especially for blackfellas and First Nations people, I think it’s really important that we consider everything that influences the outcomes for mob.
David Gow: Health equity is all of the parts of the system working seamlessly together.
Angela Young: Health equity to me and to my children means being able to access services seamlessly and the people who provide that care knowing our experience, valuing our cultural history and being genuinely interested in allowing our people to live longer and stronger.
Lilie Rose: For us to have a healthy, happy future we need to have 1. strong bodies which is overcoming those chronic disease issues and, you know… 2. is your calm mind so, again, that’s all your mental health. And then there’s 3. which is our resilient spirits and that’s just obtaining our culture, identity which as youth now we struggle. A lot of racism out there and stuff that we’ve got to overcome so, it’s a matter of now moving forward, jumping those hurdles and just building stronger selves.
Health Consumers Queensland
Melissa Fox: Health equity to Health Consumers Queensland and to the users of the health system across Queensland, including First Nations consumers means access to services that are designed by us for us, that are really aimed at improving our psychological and physical well-being. So, we know that this has been a long journey to try to improve the health outcomes of First Nations people. We’ve only got 10 years left to try and close the gap. This is really a watershed moment here in Queensland, where the door is open, people are being invited to the table to share their experiences and their solutions to help create a better health system for them.
Roslyn Boland: So, health equity for me would be about regardless of your postcode you will get the appropriate healthcare, regardless of your background whether you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander or non-Indigenous, whether you come from a culturally and linguistically diverse background. So and… you know, regardless of your age as well, your condition… So it’s looking at the populations right across the board for which Queensland Health service, and it’s changing the way that we’re doing business. And with this health equity it will ensure that we are listening to the voices and we’re allowing these people to be part of that process in making sure that we have a clearer platform so that everybody gets to, you know, move towards a goal that’s their goal and it’s achievable.