Building The Blocks of Cultural Competency in Melbourne's North West




Understanding the health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service users across the NWMR is essential to determining whether these needs are being addressed. The resources below provide research relating to Closing the Health Gap, mapping of service providers, population analysis, needs assessment surveys, service user interviews, and the outcomes of self-auditing provided by health and human service providers. This data provides an evidence base to guide effective and responsive strategic planning.


The 2015 Closing the Gap Report found that there had been limited progress to closing the gap between Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people in life expectancy within a generation. While there has been a significant drop in rates of chronic disease and infant mortality, since 2006 the gap widened for cancer mortality and there has been no improvement for diabetes or external causes of death such as suicide and transport accidents. Areas of particular concern include the incidence of mental health and the incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Research and consultations by PCP agencies across the NWMR identified that mainstream service providers required additional support in the following areas:

  • - cultural awareness/responsiveness training for employees;
  • - data collection relating to Aboriginality of service users and the resolution of database problems;
  • - improved community awareness of, and access to, Aboriginal Liaison roles and staff;
  • - providing a culturally welcoming environment for Aboriginal service users;
  • - improved recruitment processes to support Aboriginal applicants; and
  • - the need for resources and strategies to support Aboriginal people employed in mainstream services.
  • - Focus groups with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People residing in the Inner North West catchment identified that three factors influence the likelihood of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders accessing services – cultural competence, reputation, and accessibility.



Title: Workforce Cultural Competency Survey 2015
Author: Tania McKenna on behalf of the NWMR Koolin Balit PCP Consortium
Type: Publication

This report provides an overview of outcomes and recommendations following a survey of member agencies conducted by PCP member agencies across Melbourne’s North West. The results indicate some positive signs across the sector with most agencies implementing some significant reforms to improve the services that they provide to Aboriginal people and their engagement with the Aboriginal community more generally. Support frameworks for Aboriginal staff and the need for consumer feedback mechanisms were identified as priority areas in which agencies required further support. These outcomes will be used to inform PCP Koolin Balit funded activities.

Title: Closing the Gap in North Western Melbourne PHN
Author: Melbourne Primary Care Network 2016
Type: Publication

This paper examines health data for each life stage to paint a comprehensive picture of the health issues and challenges facing Aboriginal people in the NWMPHN region across their lives. It reveals that while there are issues which are unique to each life stage, the broad gap in health outcomes can be traced from birth and early childhood. These early indicators then accelerate into a range of serious health outcomes as Aboriginal people become adults.

Title: North East Primary Care Partnership’s Commitment to: Closing the Health Gap. Screening, Engagement and Navigation – A Brief Paper on Discussions with Practitioners and Consumers in the NEPCP Catchment
Author: North East Primary Care Partnership 2012
Type: Publication

This paper documents the outcomes of informal discussions with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members and those providing services to the community. The discussions were used to inform the work of the NEPCP by identifying emerging issues that impacted upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing.

Title: Closing the Health Gap Inner North West Region Profile Report
Author: Inner North West Primary Care Partnership and Merri Community Health Services 2013
Type: Publication

This report gathers data to identify service gaps in the Inner North West region. The data includes service mapping, responses to a service provider survey, consumer engagement with Aboriginal people, and evidenced-based project recommendations. The report identifies key areas for action:

  • - the need for cultural awareness/ responsiveness staff training;
  • - Asking the Question – staff training and resolution of database problems;
  • - awareness of, and access to , Aboriginal Liaison roles and staff support; and
  • - the creation of welcoming environments for Aboriginal service users.


Title: Collecting Stories Video / Collecting Stories Booklet
Author: North East Primary Care Partnership and HealthWest Primary Care Partnership 2012
Type: Booklet and Video

The Collecting Stories Project documents the lived experiences of Aboriginal clients using the primary care service system. The purpose of these resources are to inform service providers on what works well for Aboriginal service users, what hasn’t worked, and how services can be delivered in a way that responds and supports Aboriginal people in an appropriate way.

Title: Closing the Gap in Inner North West Melbourne – A Population Health Needs Assessment
Author: Inner North West Melbourne Metropolitan Medicare Local 2013
Type: Publication

This report sets out the Aboriginal Health Needs Assessment undertaken by Inner North West Melbourne Medicare Local (INWMML) to provide an evidence base for future planning and for prioritising actions to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people living in the catchment.

Title: 2012 North East Primary Care Partnership – A Report on the Working with Aboriginal People and Communities Survey Distributed to North East Primary Care Partnership Member Agencies
Author: North East Primary Care Partnership 2012
Type: Publication

This report documents the outcomes of a survey of NEPCP member organisations for the purpose of identifying the level of knowledge in key areas of cultural competence; identify current gaps, enablers, and barriers to cultural responsiveness in service provision; and to provide the opportunity for survey respondents to provide suggestions or ideas on the information/resources required to improve their level of cultural competence.

Title: North East Primary Care Partnership’s Commitment to Closing the Health Gap: A Report on Current Projects and Initiatives Being Undertaken by NEPCP Member Agencies Banyule, Darebin and Nillumbik
Author: North East Primary Care Partnership 2012
Type: Publication

This report aims to assist NEPCP member agencies to be better informed about the projects being conducted by other member agencies regarding improving health service responses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service users. This report may assist in identifying opportunities for sharing of resources and knowledge; and to enable improved strategic planning across and within sectors.

Title: Accessibility of Mainstream Services for Aboriginal Victorians
Author: Victorian Auditor-General 2014
Type: Publication

This audit examines the access to mainstream services for Aboriginal Victorians that are provided or funded by government departments, and it assessed whether departments can demonstrate how improved access has contributed, and is expected to contribute to improved outcomes. The report finds that despite departments developing programs aimed at increasing access, outcomes have not improved significantly and in some cases the gap has worsened. A lack of broad consultation and problems with data reliability mean that departments cannot be assured they understand the needs of Aboriginal Victorians.

Title: Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage (OID): Key Indicators 2014
Author: Commonwealth of Australia 2014
Type: Publication

The OID report serves as a public report card on progress in overcoming Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage. It can help governments assess the effectiveness of current policies and inform the development of new approaches. It can assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and advocacy organisations to hold governments to account, and to develop their own responses to the disadvantage that limits the opportunities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Title: The Health and Welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
Author: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2015
Type: Publication

This is the eighth publication released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) that reports on improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This report found that while there are areas such as infant mortality where the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people is being closed, there are areas of serious concern, such as mental health and incarceration rates.

Title: Closing the Gap Prime Minister’s Report 2017
Author: Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet 2017
Type: Publication

This publication is the eighth Closing the gap report produced since targets were set by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 2008. There have been some successes and continuing improvement in many of the areas critical to addressing inequality. While long-term improvements are evident, overall progress has been varied and meeting many of the Closing the gap targets remains a significant challenge. The report highlights the that it is a shared responsibility of all governments to partner with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in order to meet the Closing the gap targets. COAG has identified Indigenous affairs as a key priority on its agenda and governments need to work together to pursue national reforms that will expand opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities.

Title: Progress and Priorities Report: Close the Gap 2017
Author: Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee
Type: Publication
The 2017 Close the gap progress and priorities report made a number of recommendations under these headings:

  • - New Engagement
  • - Reinvigorating the National Approach to Health Inequality
  • - Social and Cultural Determinants of Health Implementation Plan

Title: Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023
Author: Australian Government 2015
Type: Publication

The implementation plan outlines the actions to be taken by the Australian Government, the Aboriginal community controlled health sector, and other key stakeholders to give effect to the vision, principles, priorities and strategies of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023.