Enhancing Indigenous Capacity: Building a Sustainable Future: a national symposium on workforce development in Indigenous maternal and child health

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Published in the HealthBulletin Journal
Posted on:
18 May, 2007
Related topics
Kulunga Conference 2007 Kulunga Conference 2007 Kulunga Conference 2007

The national symposium Enhancing Indigenous Capacity: Building a Sustainable Future was held in Perth , Western Australia , 8-9 May 2007. The symposium was hosted and supported by the Rio Tinto Child Health Partnership and sponsored by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.

The major aims of the symposium were to:

  • enable a range of stakeholders from across Australia to share their expertise, experiences, research and resources;
  • identify clear directions and strategies at both a practical and policy level for enhancing the skills of the Indigenous health workforce, increasing the number of health workers in Indigenous communities and improving the coordination and delivery of primary health care services to Indigenous people; and
  • provide health workers with resources to assist them to address maternal alcohol and tobacco use in Indigenous communities.

The symposium examined issues central to the development of the maternal and child health workforce in Indigenous communities, including how to:

  • build the child and maternal health skills of health workers in Indigenous communities;
  • increase the number of Indigenous health workers and enhance training and accreditation so they can deliver comprehensive and holistic primary health care; and
  • coordinate service delivery across government agencies and the community controlled sector to improve Indigenous peoples access to and utilisation of services.

The proceedings started with a welcome to country by Noongar Elder, Vivienne Hansen. The opening address was by Professor Fiona Stanley, Director of the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research and Chair of the National Advisory Committee, Rio Tinto Child Health Partnership.

The International Keynote address was presented by:

  • Dr Janet Smylie, Associate Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Toronto and research scientist at St Michael’s Hospital at the Centre for Research on Inner City Health – Kokum, what makes baby well?

Other keynote addresses were presented by:

  • Dr Kathryn Panaretto, Medical Director at the Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health Services – The Mums and Babies Program
  • Donna Ah Chee, Deputy Director Central Australian Aboriginal Congress – The development of the maternal and child health program
  • Sandra Collard, Workforce Issues Project, Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia – The workforce issues project at the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia
  • Associate Professor Ted Wilkes, Rio Tinto Child Health Partnership Leader – Aboriginal health: the male perspective
  • Dr Kathryn Panaretto, Medical Director at the Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health Services – The development and implementation of a randomised controlled trial of a culturally specific intervention for pregnant women who smoke

The forum included four workshops:

  • Empowerment, Indigenous men’s groups and social and emotional wellbeing: implications for workforce development
  • Enhancing the capacity to reduce smoking in Aboriginal communities
  • Alcohol and pregnancy: health professionals making a difference
  • A community controlled approach to reducing the risk of SIDS in Aboriginal communities

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet staff Sam Burrow, Sharon Clews, Ineke Krom and Annemarie Paddick ran a HealthInternet café at the symposium.

  • For further information regarding the symposium contact:

We’d like to thank the symposium participants who provided written permission for us to display their photos here (click on the photos to enlarge).

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