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Aboriginal Health Worker Status in South Australia

  • Year: 2001
  • Author: Dollard, Joanne; Strewart, Terry; Fuller, Jeffrey; Blue, Ian
  • Journal Name: Aboriginal and Islander Health Worker Journal
  • Journal Number: Vol. 25, No. 1
  • Country: Australia
  • State/Region: South Australia

In 1999, the South Australian Centre for Rural and Remote Health reviewed the status, support arrangements and training needs of Aboriginal health workers (AHWs) in South Australia for the South Australian Aboriginal Health Partnership. This article presents the findings relating to the status or standing of AHWs. Major issues relating to status and suggestions to improve it were identified by Aboriginal health workers and other stakeholders through a survey (N=74), interviews, focus groups and public submissions. Approximately one third of AHWs surveyed were dissatisfied with their status: however, those under the age of forty were more likely to be dissatisfied. Major issues included: a lack of recognition as a professional, inequality compared with other health professionals, a lack of recognition of the Aboriginal health worker role, differences in pay, and differences in qualifications required for appointment between employers. Some suggestions to improve status were improved recognition, education and training, improved pay, professional registration, annual state conferences, a career structure reflecting specialisation, and the formation of a professional association. It is concluded that the issues influencing AHW status such as registration and the establishment of a professional association needs to be fully understood by AHWs if they are to improve their overall status.

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