The Close the Gap Campaign brought public attention to the poorer health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared to the non-Indigenous population, and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023 identified the need to address
systemic racism within the health system to improve health outcomes.
Far North Queensland beginnings
In 2014, the Queensland Human Rights Commission worked with senior leaders from the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service (CHHHS) and the community-controlled health sector to remove institutional barriers for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population serviced by the CHHHS. This work led to the appointment of an Aboriginal person to the CHHHS board and the establishment of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health committee.
Recognising that many of the issues observed in the Cairns region had state-wide relevance, the QHRC in partnership with the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) commissioned a report on institutional barriers to health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland's public hospital and health services.
The report used a tool, known as
the Matrix, to provide a set of baseline data from which to measure progress towards elimination of institutional racism in health services over time.
Since completion of the report, Queensland Health, QAIHC, and the Commission have collaborated on ways for Queensland Health to address institutional racism in the health system.
Key documents associated with this project are:
- 2017 Health equity report (MS Word Document, 948.7 KB) : Addressing institutional barriers to health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland's public hospital and health services, by Adrian Marrie (Bukal Consultancy Services Pty Ltd)
- 2018 Health equity report addendum by Adrian Marrie (MS Word Document, 14.2 KB) .
- Communique: Panel of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health experts (MS Word Document, 87.9 KB) (12 November 2018)
- Queensland Health response: Addressing institutional barriers to health equity (PDF File, 381.8 KB) (26 November 2018)
- Commission Health Equity report media release: Audit finds high levels of institutional racism in Queensland's health system, but experts hopeful of a brighter future.