Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

An overarching strategic priority for General Practice Training Tasmania (GPTT) is to contribute to ‘Closing the Gap’ in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health disadvantage by delivering high quality, innovative, regionally-based training programs which produce a GP workforce that meets the primary healthcare needs of all Australians.

The GPTT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Training Strategic Plan has been developed to expand capacity, increase activity and improve the quality of general practice care provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  This training also provides GP registrars with unique and rewarding opportunities to learn about traditional medicine, cultural protocols and clinical issues.

Some of our initiatives under the GPTT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Training Strategic Plan are listed below.

Reconciliation Action Plan

In July 2020, General Practice Training Tasmania (GPTT), in collaboration with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, launched the GPTT Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan – this builds on their previous Reflect RAP further formalised their commitment to improving Aboriginal health in Tasmania.

GPTT CEO Judy Dew said the Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), which has been endorsed by Reconciliation Australia, provides many ongoing opportunities to further strengthen our relationships with the Tasmanian Aboriginal community.

“The RAP provides a framework, with strategies and measurable targets, to further extend our Aboriginal cultural training and to maintain respectful relationships within the Aboriginal community,” Ms Dew said.

“We have a long and valued relationship with the Tasmanian Aboriginal community and are committed to fostering a greater understanding of Aboriginal culture and health among our registrars and within our organisation so as to provide services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that are culturally appropriate”.

The RAP program has more than 1,000 dedicated corporate, government and not-for-profit organisations across Australia that have formally committed to reconciliation since its inception in 2006.

Artwork in the RAP has been carried across from the previous Reflect Rap and was provided by Tasmanian Aboriginal Artist, Sharnie Read.

The artwork depicts a mariner shell, one of the most precious and decorative shells used by Tasmanian Aboriginal people along with an ancient cultural symbol that can be found carved into rock at various locations around the island.

Download the RAP



Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is an important aspect of the GPTT training program, and experience in this area is key to becoming clinically and culturally competent.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health training is delivered throughout the GPTT training program.  This training meets the requirements of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Statement, as contained in the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and Royal Australian College of General Practice (RACGP) curricula.  To meet these requirements GPTT provides two options which have been accredited through the RACGP and ACRRM  and meet the PIP and Closing the Gap requirements

  • Option 1: Aboriginal Health Cultural Awareness Program
  • Option 2: Aboriginal Cultural Attentiveness and Safety Program (Aboriginal Health Camp)


The Aboriginal Health Cultural Awareness Training program incorporates three separate components:

  • Aboriginal Health Service Visit (a two hour visit to a local Aboriginal Health Service)
  • Online module covering population health statistics and initiatives for improving the health care of Aboriginal people. The online module covers cultural awareness requirements of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and initiatives such as Practice Incentive Payments and Closing the Gap.
  • This component is designed to provide greater flexibility for participants to choose a cultural activity that best suits their learning style and journey to cultural awareness. Activities can include reading a book or visiting an exhibit relevant to Aboriginal culture or participating in a cultural activity such during NAIDOC week or Reconciliation Week.


In partnership with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, GPTT offers an annual Cultural Education Camp.  Registrars who attend the camp satisfy the mandatory Aboriginal Health Training requirements.  This multi day camp is hosted by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre on Aboriginal land (twatha makuminya) in the central highlands of Tasmania and is RACGP Category 1 accredited for Aboriginal cultural competence.

The Camp provides a truly immersive experience for registrars to learn more about Tasmanian Aboriginal history, experience and culture.  Aimed at increasing the skills and knowledge of attendees by uniquely experiencing Tasmanian Aboriginal culture, the Camp provides a range of activities, including walks with Aboriginal guides that cover ancient sites, fire management practice, local plants and animals, and cultural learning activities such as weaving with grasses.

Feedback from the camp was extremely positive…

“A superb weekend walking though Aboriginal land with Aboriginal leaders, getting an understanding of the connection to land, community and ancestors.  Learning how non-Aboriginal health workers can assist Aboriginal people across culturally appropriate services…”

Participants at the 2018 Aboriginal Cultural Camp

Cultural Educators/Mentors

GPTT have provided funding to the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre to support the roles of Cultural Educators and Cultural Mentors.

The role of Cultural Educators is to assist in the promotion, development, delivery and evaluation of cultural awareness training for registrars and other individuals and organisations.

Cultural Mentors support GPTT registrars in providing culturally safe care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, both at Aboriginal Health Services and in primary care generally.


A culturally responsive general practice environment can play a significant part in improving access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.  GPTT believes that increased participation from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce is important, particularly given general practitioners are considered the first point of contact for most Australians when accessing healthcare.  For this reason, GPTT has recently developed a Registrar Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Support Policy as a mechanism to reduce potential barriers and assist them to meet their learning outcomes.
ATSI Registrar Support Policy

Registrar Posts at Tasmanian Aboriginal Health Services

General Practice registrars are able to practice at an Aboriginal Health Service in Burnie, Launceston or Hobart as part of their GP training.  Registrars who have undertaken a post at an Aboriginal Health Service as part of their training recommend it for many reasons:

  • Working in a community setting
  • Managing a range of complex chronic diseases
  • Providing culturally appropriate, holistic primary health care
  • Developing an understanding of the cultural, social and emotional needs of Aboriginal patients.

More information can be found in training practices search

“I consider it a great opportunity to have worked with the Aboriginal community as it allowed me great insight towards their history, culture and community aspects.  I appreciated the complexities of their medical and social needs and feel privileged to be able to contribute towards their health and improve health outcomes by targeting regular health checks, conducting home visits with Aboriginal Health Workers, promoting timely vaccinations and encouraging patients to take responsibility for their own health”.  Testimonial from Nisha Johnson, Registrar at the Hobart Aboriginal Health Centre in 2018. 

Support For Registrars undertaking Posts at Tasmanian Abroriginal Health Services

Home Visits Program

In collaboration with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, GPTT provides for the delivery of an outreach service for frail, socially isolated, elderly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with chronic diseases.  Registrars have the opportunity to conduct medical appointments at a patient’s home, with the assistance of a health professional from the Aboriginal Health Service, such as an Aboriginal Health Worker, Nurse, or Social Worker.


Small Group Learning Sessions

Small Group Learning Session are provided for GPTT registrars on a regular basis.  Sessions address the individual learning needs of the registrars and provide clinical support in managing any challenges faced by the registrars.