On 7 October, The Healing Foundation met with Health Ministers on Kaurna Country in Adelaide to share views, speak openly and engage in truth-telling around how the health system across Australia works (and doesn’t work) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The Health Roundtable, kindly hosted by the Lowitja Institute and sponsored by the Federal Government, was the first held since the inaugural Roundtable in Alice Springs in 2018.
While just skimming the surface of many issues and continuing inequities, it was a day where health jurisdictions, peak bodies, community leaders and Health Ministers had the time and space to hear from each other and focus on key topics such as cultural determinants of health (including cultural safety and governance), data sovereignty and bringing more First Nations voices to the entire health system.
It was also an opportunity for Health Ministers to hear about the ongoing prevalence of racism across the health system and its debilitating impacts on the community and First Nations workforce.
For many years The Healing Foundation has been part of the National Health Leadership Forum, where eliminating racism has been a key focus. Our message at the Health Roundtable was clear: there is an urgent need to address ongoing racism in policies and systems across the broader health services landscape – particularly among the workforce – while continuing to grow and equip an emerging First Nations workforce to provide a health system that is culturally appropriate, safe, and free from trauma.
Overall, the Health Roundtable was a significant forum and The Healing Foundation was keen to be seen and heard as a leader in trauma-aware, healing-informed practice. Our message to health authorities was that it is possible to prioritise Stolen Generations survivors and to end triggering and retraumatising in health settings and interactions, and it is urgent. We work alongside many to share critical knowledge on what will make the greatest difference in the short-term, including ways to address and eliminate racism in the health system.
Our vision, communicated to Ministers at the Roundtable, is one where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples enjoy long and healthy lives, with access to services that are prevention-focused and healing-informed.
On hearing of the experiences of First Nations peoples, Health Ministers unanimously committed to an ongoing partnership to explore ways of bringing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices into decision-making. You can also read the Health Ministers Roundtable Communique here.