Give Indigenous Australian women and infants a chance at life: addressing the disparity in maternal-infant health outcomes

By Kaitlyn Krahe

Kaitlyn represented Victoria University at the 2016 OECD Forum in Paris.  

Abstract

Urged by a national public awareness campaign in 2008, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) formally committed to “Closing the Gap” between the health outcomes of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation (FaHCSIA, 2012). Almost a decade since this agreement, significant discrepancies persist. Of particular concern and even greater urgency are the pervasive inequalities which render Australian Indigenous women twice as likely to experience severe maternal morbidity and three times more likely to die during pregnancy compared to non-Indigenous women (ABS, 2015). Similarly, infants of Indigenous descent have double the risk of dying during their first year of life (AIHW, 2014a). The onus of overcoming this entrenched cycle of endemic disadvantage, underpinned by more than two hundred years of systematic dispossession, exacerbated by decades of underinvestment and a distinct lack of accessible facilities offering culturally competent resources, compels all members of civil society, government policy makers and key stakeholders in the education, health and social support spheres to “Close the Gap”. This paper will posit strategies for improving maternal-infant health outcomes by addressing the root socioeconomic causes which give rise to inequality, better accounting for all Indigenous people in national data collection and developing culturally appropriate and inclusive healthcare using a rights-based, community focused framework.

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Strategies for increasing recruitment of female medical graduates to surgical specialties: a role for medical schools

By Victoria Cook

Victoria attended the 2016 UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York.

Abstract

Since 2001, the majority of students graduating from Australian medical schools have been female. Yet in 2015, only 9.2% of surgeons were female, a figure that declines further in sub-specialties such as orthopaedics[1]. Female students accurately perceive significant gender-based barriers to building a successful career in surgery. These negative perceptions are compounded and exaggerated by experiences of medical education. Increasing the numbers of women in surgery requires a comprehensive approach across all stages of medical education, as well as surgical training and practice. This paper will focus on the role that universities can play in encouraging a more gender-neutral pattern of specialisation in medical graduates, in particular by increasing the number of female graduates choosing surgery.

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Addressing Health Workforce Shortages in Rural and Remote Australia through the Provision of Physician Assistants

By Ankur Verma 

Ankur attended the 2015 OECD Forum in Paris. 

Abstract

The context of global and Australian health workforce presented in this research paper has been used to guide the introduction of Physician Assistants (PAs) into Australia as a national health care recommendation. The scope of practice, employment potential, prospective impact on the Australian health system, and contribution to the productivity and quality of health care services[1] offered by the Physician Assistant model, as it is referred to, is discussed in support of the recommendations presented in this paper. Alternative rural and remote training pathways and better access to health care through even workforce distribution have been selected as two broad themes for this research paper. Health Workforce Australia’s (HWA) review on the globalisation of PAs in the United States (US), has also been used to guide the need for professional registration for PAs with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), and accreditation with the Australian Medical Council (AMC). PAs’ access to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and the PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) has also been recommended evidenced by their role in the Australian health workforce context, so they can be utilised to their full potential including contributing to General Practitioner (GP) supervised primary care services, especially in rural areas. 

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