Queensland Health, in conjunction with QAIHC are pleased to provide a brief update on the journey so far as we undertake to achieve health equity with First Nations people in Queensland. 

In March 2021, Queensland Health in partnership with the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC), the peak body for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health organisations, co-designed and co-launched the Health Equity Discussion Paper—another key ‘first’ in Queensland. 

The Paper guided conversations held in regional consultation workshops across the state involving Hospital and Health Services (HHS), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Organisations (ATSICCHOs), and government agencies and other statutory authorities.

More than 490 people participated in the regional consultations and a number via online surveys with five key themes (with two sub themes) emerging:

  1. Systems—in particular, the cultural, economic, and social determinants of health.
  2. Patient Care—better coordinated patient care.
  3. Workforce—more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the health workforce.
  4. Funding sustainability
  5. Culture—in particular, racial discrimination and cultural governance (voice).

These regional conversations informed the drafting of the Making Tracks Together: Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Equity Framework to overarch the co-design and co-implementation of health equity strategies in the regions as prescribed by legislation. 

The Framework and the Consultation Report have been approved and released publicly (November 2021), along with a toolkit and strategy template that was co-developed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Division and QAIHC— noting some preliminary testing of the toolkit was conducted with select HHSs and groups across the state in August 2021.

Importantly, in April (2021), the Hospital and Health Boards (Health Equity Strategies) Amendment Regulation commenced, and HHSs have been allowed up until 30 April 2022 to publish their inaugural three-year health equity strategy in partnership with prescribed stakeholders. 

The regulation introduces, for the first time into legislation, requirements for measures to actively eliminate institutional racism and racial discrimination within our services and influencing cultural, economic, and social determinants of health. 

We have been progressing the
health equity reform agenda across other government agencies and statutory authorities to secure support and be clear on our collective and individual responsibilities as a public service to achieve equity with First Nations people.

We are proud of the partnership and ongoing commitment to co-design that has been established between Queensland Health and QAIHC. Importantly, we celebrate the design of provisions now contained in the Hospital and Health Boards (Health Equity Strategies) Amendment Regulation 2021. Amending the Hospital and Health Boards Regulation 2012 was led through a process co-chaired by QAIHC and Queensland Health. 

The discussion paper and state-wide consultation process that followed was a representation of true co-design with shared authority and responsibility. The health service directive sets out a consistent and transparent process in the co-design of regional strategies with prescribed development stakeholders, including QAIHC and the ATSICCHOs within their service area. 

In closing, we would like to acknowledge the significant work that is happening across HHSs and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector as we strive towards a new way of working together. 

We thank both our staff in A&TSIHD and QAIHC for their contribution to date as we strengthen our partnership and the ways we co-design. It is vitally important these reforms place First Nations people at the centre of system and service design and delivery and amplifies their voice in decision-making.

As we connect with our partners across the state on this important reform agenda, the one message we consistently hear is that this legislative amendment is the most significant opportunity to action change in the history of our
health system.

For many of our First Nations workforce, community leaders and traditional custodians “health equity” has been a long time coming —but now we have the authorising environment to action significant reform to our health system by putting our First Nations first.


Haylene Grogan and
Cleveland Fagan

Haylene Grogan and Cleveland Fagan