The Closing the Gap Initiative: Successes and ongoing challenges for divisions of general practice
Bywood, Petra Teresia
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Background This article presents an evaluation of the activities undertaken by divisions of general practice to improve Indigenous Australians’ access to mainstream primary care. Methods Data were obtained from 12 month reports for the 2009–10 reporting period. Data from 86 divisions were thematically analysed using NVivo 9 software. Results Most divisions provided positive comments regarding their involvement in the program. The main barriers to access among Indigenous Australians were cost, inadequate transport, lack of cultural sensitivity and staffing shortages. The activities undertaken to address barriers included awareness raising, distribution of resources, cultural safety training and employing Indigenous staff. Stakeholder involvement was achieved through community consultation and establishment of advisory committees. Discussion While most divisions were satisfied with their progress, ongoing challenges were identified with regard to effective identification of Indigenous patients and lack of interest among some practice staff. These need to be addressed though ongoing cultural awareness training.