Poster Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

‘This has changed my life’: Aboriginal employment plans and training grants–Partnerships between Victorian Aboriginal people, Aboriginal community controlled health organisations, Victorian public health services and the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (#414)

Rebecca Radford 1 , Sue Davey 1 , Deborah Cole 2
  1. Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
  2. Dental Health Services, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (‘the department’) funded Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV) to implement an Aboriginal employment plan and training grants. As a result, the number of Aboriginal people accessing DHSV has increased by over 170%.

This presentation outlines two Aboriginal workforce initiatives of the Victorian Government increasing the impact of the Aboriginal health workforce and co-creating Aboriginal health and wellbeing through economic benefit and career pathways: the Implementation of Aboriginal Employment Plans Program and the Koolin Balit Stronger Skilled Workforce Training Grants Program. We will co-present with DHSV Chief Executive Officer Dr Deborah Cole and an Aboriginal dental-assisting traineeship graduate and dentistry student, Mr Michael Lawler.

Aboriginal health and wellbeing can be improved through Aboriginal people undertaking meaningful employment, gaining skills and pursuing an education[1]. Building career aspirations in young Aboriginal people is vital to break the welfare cycle and to achieve economic goals[2]. Employing Aboriginal people in clinical and non-clinical roles at all levels in public health services makes services more accessible for Aboriginal Victorians[3]. Supply and demand-side approaches, such as skill development and recruitment and retention policies, are required for Aboriginal career development[4].

Since 2013, the department has funded 32 Victorian public health services to implement Aboriginal Employment Plans, as part of the Government’s commitment to improve Aboriginal health outcomes. The department also provides secretariat support for an Aboriginal Employment Advisory Group and Project Officer Working Group. Aboriginal employment in Victorian public health services has grown from 74 Aboriginal employees in 2011, to 220 in 2015.

Training grants for Aboriginal people are another way the department, in partnership with Victorian public health services and Aboriginal community controlled health organisations, increases the impact of the Aboriginal workforce and builds capacity to sustain the next generation. Since 2010, 540 training grants have been awarded (in vocational and undergraduate qualifications), providing opportunities to realise aspirations, upskill, change career, enter the workforce for the first time and gain confidence and new skill sets including job preparation skills.

Evaluation of Victorian Aboriginal workforce development is underway. We will share relevant evaluation findings in this presentation.