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18 March 2021
Today is National Close the Gap Day – the gap refers to the health and life expectancy difference between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.
Close the Gap is an initiative to help improve the lives of Aboriginal Peoples through better health, education and employment outcomes.
Emergency Department Nurse, Latoya Floyd shares her story and how she’s contributing to better health outcomes for Aboriginal patients.
“I’m originally from Perth. Unfortunately, I don’t have much knowledge of my Indigenous background due to my mother being part of the Stolen Generations.
“I pride myself on trying to gain more of an understanding and have a presence within my Indigenous community. Through searching, I now know that my country is within the Noongar Nation in southwest WA,” says Latoya.
Latoya explains the benefits of patients having Aboriginal staff caring for them.
“I think having a nurse or really any health care provider that identifies as Aboriginal provides a sense of belonging, comfort and trust for Aboriginal patients.
“As a nurse working in Emergency Department, I can provide a familiar and friendly face to our Aboriginal patients allowing them to feel more comfortable.
“I always advocate for Aboriginal patients and assist them in getting the appropriate cultural care during their stay,” Latoya says.
Austin Health have many initiatives in place that focus on contributing to closing the gap. They include mandatory Aboriginal Cultural Awareness training for all staff, as well as a quality project to increase identification of Aboriginal patients to help improve access to appropriate services and culturally safe care.
Currently, we are in the process of developing our first Cultural Protocol for staff, a Cultural Safety Plan and our second Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), an Innovate RAP.
We are also in the development phase of our next Aboriginal Employment Plan. The focus of this plan is to attract Aboriginal candidates to Austin Health and provide development opportunities for them to succeed in their roles, all whilst working in a culturally safe environment. One employment initiative we participant in is the Aboriginal Nursing Cadetship Program which aims to increase our Aboriginal workforce and a career pathway opportunity into our health service.
It’s hoped that by having a greater representation of Aboriginal staff across all disciplines, and increasing cultural awareness among non-Indigenous staff, our Aboriginal patients will experience a sense of greater cultural safety at Austin Health.