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Aboriginal community controlled health services: leading the way in primary care

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The disparity in health between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia and their non-Indigenous peers is core business for the Aboriginal community controlled health service (ACCHS) sector. The Closing the Gap framework commits to reducing this disadvantage, with cross-government-sector initiatives and investment, reflecting the need to improve the social and emotional wellbeing of the Aboriginal community.1 Activity in the primary health care sector, with its focus on prevention, early intervention and coordination of care complements these efforts to build healthier communities. With their model of comprehensive primary health care and community governance, ACCHSs have reduced unintentional racism, barriers to access to health care, and are progressively improving individual health outcomes for Aboriginal people.

So what is known about the performance of ACCHSs and mainstream general practice? Why should support for ACCHSs be both continued and enhanced?

Models of care and program delivery

The models of comprehensive primary health care, developed with government and research partners, that are used in ACCHSs are well described.2,3 Clinical services, health promotion, cultural safety, community engagement all underpinned by research, evaluation and planning activity are the essential…