06 Oct 2023
Work to close the gap and eliminate racism from Australian healthcare has been recognised at the peak international regulation awards.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Unit (HSU) received a CLEAR award at its annual educational conference in the United States, highlighting its critical role in dismantling racist behaviours and systems in healthcare.
The Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation (CLEAR) serves and supports the international regulatory community. Its global membership promotes regulatory excellence to improve the quality and understanding of regulation to enhance public protection.
Established in 2021, the HSU ensures that Indigenous experts lead reforms to make regulatory processes culturally safe and free from racism, and that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are represented in decision making.
Led by Gomeroi woman Jayde Fuller, the HSU was awarded for its work driving Ahpra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025 and its goal of eliminating racism from the health system by 2032.
Ms Fuller said the international recognition not only underlined the vital role the HSU was leading, but also the work the wider health system needed to embrace to make it safe from racism.
'Healthcare should not be harmful. We are taking a strategic approach to dismantling all forms of racism, systemic, institutional and interpersonal. This includes ownership and accountability by providers, practitioners and regulators to creating safe healthcare,' Ms Fuller said.
'We are ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples design and lead reform, prioritising cultural safety to improve and regulate health practitioners practice and standards and create change at all levels.'
Presented at its annual conference in Salt Lake City, the CLEAR award recognises the HSU’s role in driving world-first reform to embed cultural safety and the elimination of racism in healthcare into Australian legislation.
The groundbreaking law reforms mean that if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people receive healthcare that is racist and unsafe and their complaint enters the regulatory system, cultural safety must be taken into account. It also means that registered health practitioners are required to take steps to educate themselves on cultural safety regarding the accessibility of their services.
The award also highlighted the HSU’s work to:
The HSU draws on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals, practitioners, peak bodies, and race scholars to shape its transformative work.
‘Culturally safe healthcare for Indigenous people has been a commitment in our organisation for 6 years - but we've been protecting our communities for 65,000 years and regulators can learn a lot from our survival and ways of knowing, being and doing.’
‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are not always safe accessing or working in healthcare. Racism can lead to distrust and reluctance to seek healthcare, resulting in poor health outcomes and even death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Ms Fuller said.
’This award honours all those who have come before us working for safer healthcare, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners from all professions who care for our mob.’