The Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC) has placed its 5000th health professional into a remote Indigenous community in the Northern Territory (NT), since the program began in late 2008. The milestone was marked today at Parliament House with the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Health and Minister for Aged Care, presenting a certificate of recognition to Dr Vikki Tselepis, an Audiologist from Melbourne. Dr Tselepis has completed 17 placements since 2011 in both Top End and Central communities such as Galiwinku, Gapuwiak, and Santa Teresa amongst others and RAHC’s 5000th placement was at Mutitjulu and Papunya in Central Australia.
RAHC is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health under the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme: Stronger Futures Northern Territory. The stated aim of the program is to “address persistent challenges to accessing primary healthcare services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait people in the Northern Territory”.
Tanya Brunt, National Manager – RAHC, said, “The 5000th placement is a significant milestone for RAHC. We have been successful in encouraging dedicated and skilled health professionals like Dr Tselepis to be part of the effort to close the gap in Indigenous health outcomes in the NT. RAHC has achieved a very high repeat rate of 80% of urban-based health professionals returning to undertake additional placements. Moreover, we are delighted that over the years some of the RAHC health professionals have taken the step of joining the permanent workforce in the Territory following their RAHC experience.”
“At RAHC we endeavour to ensure successful placements and hence we provide the essential support and training to all our health professionals’ pre and during their placements. We offer a suite of free eLearning modules that meet criteria for Continuing Professional Development, a cultural and clinical orientation program and on-going support for new-to-remote health professionals to make a smooth transition.”
Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM, said programs like RAHC were making a big difference to the lives of Aboriginal people.
“I congratulate RAHC on its outstanding record of providing high-calibre, clinically competent and culturally sensitive health workers for the Northern Territory,” Minister Wyatt said.
“Without this initiative, and dedicated professionals like Dr Tselepis, many people would have to go without, or delay health care attendance or have to travel long distances to access care.
“While health is its highest priority, the program is also fostering lasting friendships and strengthening links between urban and remote Australia,” added Minister Wyatt.
RAHC has recruited 1042 health professionals to more than 5,000 placements since its first placement in December 2008. This represents over 455 man-years of healthcare to the Territory. RAHC has experienced continued growth in demand for its services. Each year the actual number of placements has exceeded the contracted maximum under the funding agreement.
The RAHC program is currently funded until 30 June 2018.