Western NSW Local Health District launches its first Reconciliation Action Plan.

NEW PLAN: Professor Tom Calma (centre) speaks with Brendon Cutmore, Kirsty Glanville, Di Wykes and Scott McLachlan. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

NEW PLAN: Professor Tom Calma (centre) speaks with Brendon Cutmore, Kirsty Glanville, Di Wykes and Scott McLachlan. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

The Western NSW Local Health District plans to double its Aboriginal workforce under its first and 2017/2019 Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

It will also appoint an “Aboriginal identified” executive director and ensure Aboriginal representation on its board. Under its current RAP the health district will seek to engage the services of at least one other Aboriginal business.

A RAP document released by the health district at a forum at Dubbo on Thursday has multiple and wide-ranging targets that form part of its “commitment to improving Aboriginal health”.

Reconciliation Australia has provided the framework for the health district’s RAP. The organisation’s co-chair Professor Tom Calma launched the RAP, one of more than 900 already activated by organisations. Professor Calma understands the health district is the first of its kind in NSW to formulate and implement a RAP.

The health district’s chief executive Scott McLachlan singled out the Aboriginal workforce target during a break in the forum of Aboriginal health workers. Currently, about 300 or 4.72 per cent of the health district’s 7000 employees are Aboriginal.

“We expect to reach 9.4 per cent of our employment of Aboriginal staff in the next three years,” Mr McLachlan said.

The chief executive said the RAP was developed by Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal executive and senior staff of the health district.

He said the health district could make a difference in health outcomes for Aboriginal people by making them feel welcome and safe when receiving care and creating “a great place” for Aboriginal people to work.

“A lot of things will be happening throughout the organisation, from rolling out cultural-awareness training to employing more Aboriginal staff, to opening up new Aboriginal dedicated services and changing a lot of our front-line services whether they are emergency departments, specialist care clinics, community health services or mental health services to be more inviting  and friendly for Aboriginal people to come to,” Mr McLachlan said.

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