Recognition of the urgent need to address the current state of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in Australia

Posted by Helen Hollins on 13 May 2016

The final in our blog series showcasing 2015 ANZIA winners (Internet award). Under the Diversity award category we interviewed Andrew Gosbell, Deputy CEO - Australasian College for Emergency Medicine on the winning program.

Andrew, tell us a bit about the Indigenous Health and Cultural Competency (IH&CC) program, which you won the ANZIA for.

The Indigenous Health and Cultural Competency (IH&CC) program aims to improve the emergency department (ED) experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other culturally diverse patient groups so that it is responsive and adaptive to their cultural needs and can contribute to improved patient outcomes and equity of health care provision.

EDs are the front door to mainstream hospital services. Every ED will see and care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and their families. As the major access point to other hospital services for many people, it is important that EDs are culturally safe for all people. This is particularly important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who will often require increased access to health care but actually face additional barriers in mainstream hospital systems due to institutionalised racism and the ongoing impact of colonisation.  If these barriers are not reduced within EDs, the flow on effect with respect to early presentation, effective transfer of care both into the hospital and back to the community, could be devastating and long lasting.

The Indigenous Health and Cultural Competency program was established by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, with funding from the Australian Department of Health, in recognition of the urgent need to address the current state of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in Australia and the contribution that emergency medicine doctors can make by delivering culturally competent care to both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other Culturally and Linguistically Diverse patients and their families in their local ED.

The IH&CC program is a series of culturally relevant education tools and resources for doctors and other healthcare workers to addresses the gap in cultural awareness and Indigenous health content in EDs, enabling doctors and other healthcare workers to have an opportunity to positively impact on the experience of Indigenous and other culturally diverse patients in accessing emergency care, and assist these patient in increasing their understanding and ongoing participation in managing their own health.

The IH&CC program provides to a comprehensive eLearning modules series as well as a topical podcast series specific to emergency or urgent care contexts. These online resources are publicly available with all healthcare staff encouraged to access them. They also provide the basis for ED doctors to develop local programs to promote cultural safety at an organisational level within their own EDs.

What does it mean for you to be recognised with this Award?

The IH&CC program development was multidisciplinary project that involved substantial contributions from a broad range of ED doctors, nurses, Indigenous liaison officers, interpreters and cultural educators, from several urban, rural and remote regions. The award is recognition and endorsement of this important project.

What do you plan to do with your new found fame?

It’s been a great way to promote the IH&CC program to our members and other stakeholders in the healthcare sector.

Would you recommend the Awards program to others? If so, why? 

Definitely! It’s a great program to showcase innovation through the Internet 

What are your future plans with the project? 

We are continuing to use the IH&CC program modules and other resources to promote cultural competency and cultural safety in emergency departments and other healthcare settings.

Finally, I'd like to add that we greatly appreciate auDA and InternetNZ in offering the ANZIA awards.

ANZIAs are open! To apply go to