Aboriginal community controlled health services: leading the way in primary care
The national Closing the Gap framework commits to reducing persisting disadvantage in the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, with cross-government-sector initiatives and investment. Central to efforts to build healthier communities is the Aboriginal community controlled health service (ACCHS) sector; its focus on prevention, early intervention and comprehensive care has reduced barriers to access and unintentional racism, progressively improving individual health outcomes for Aboriginal people. There is now a broad range of primary health care data that provides a sound evidence base for comparing the health outcomes for Indigenous people in ACCHSs with the outcomes achieved through mainstream services, and these data show: models of comprehensive primary health care consistent with the patient-centred medical home model; coverage of the Aboriginal population higher than 60% outside major metropolitan centres; consistently improving performance in key performance on best-practice care indicators; and superior performance to mainstream general practice. ACCHSs play a significant role in training the medical workforce and employing Aboriginal people. ACCHSs have risen to the challenge of delivering bestpractice care and there is a case for expanding ACCHSs into new areas. To achieve the best returns, the current mainstream Closing the Gap investment should be shifted to the community controlled health sector.