History

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association (NATSIHWA) is a national peak workforce association committed to ensuring Australia’s health care system meets the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. We have been funded by the Australian Government since establishment in August 2009 to:

  • promote the prevention and control of disease and other health conditions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

  • improve the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

  • address the impacts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage and

  • address the under representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working within Australia’s health care system.

In particular, NATSIHWA holds responsibility for professionalising, promoting and expanding the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Worker and Health Practitioner workforce.

From our understanding Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners are the only culturally based health professions with national training and registration in the world. Across mainstream Australia few would know, understand or recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners as standalone professions.  Yet, within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia, this workforce is renowned as a vital and reliable community resource critical to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Evidence directly connects their roles to improved health outcomes across the life course.

You will find Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners working in rural, regional, remote and urban locations. They are employed largely by the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector, other Aboriginal Medical Services, mainstream and private health services.

NATSIHWA’s goal is to ensure this workforce is embedded as a vital, valued and professional component of Australia’s health care system critical to better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Policy development, mentoring and support, education and professional development forums, and media activities are all critical components of the NATSIHWA’s role and responsibilities.

NATSIHWA works closely with other National Peak workforce bodies including the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association (AIDA), Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) and the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses (CATSINaM).

NATSIHWA is governed by a Board of nine Directors – one from each State and Territory and one from the Torres Strait Islands.