Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects
Openings 5 years to 2016-17: < 5 000
Salary Range
Median weekly earnings: Not available to (Source: DEEWR Australian Jobs 2012: www.deewr.gov.au/australian-jobs-publication)
There are approximately 120 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers in South Australia. Over half of persons working in this occupation are females. Majority are employed in Health and Community Services industry with over half employed full-time.

TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker

Accredited (Award)

  • Think of them as communication agents in a healthcare setting. The main responsibility of Aboriginal and Torres /Strait Islander Health Workers is to liaise between medical professionals and Indigenous patients to improve the quality of health services provided to patients. Feelings of discomfort, anxiety and confusion are common experiences for patients when visiting the doctor. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, these feelings may be heightened by factors such as a lack of understanding of the respective cultures and values of practitioner and patient. By helping to bridge the cultural differences that may exist, the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers is one of great importance.

    Helping and Community ServicesInfluencing and Personal ContactMedical

  • Of those working in the Industry 54% have either Certificate III or Certificate IV and 46% have a not defined certificate. Courses offered by TAFE SA relevant to this occupation include the Certificate II Family Wellbeing.

  • Employment in this relatively small occupational field in South Australia is anticipated to increase slightly from retirements and people leaving this occupation.

    The demand for this occupation depends on the level of use of health services by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as well as on the level of government funding available. Aboriginal and Torres Islander health workers are usually employed in hospitals and other health service providers in metropolitan and rural areas. Opportunities for this occupation are usually higher in non-metropolitan locations.

    Organisation and government health services, are able to recruit people directly from the community and provide them with training and support until they are qualified. Once qualified, people receive a full salary at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health worker entry level, with additional training and through promotion, health workers can advance to the position of a senior health worker or a health services manager.

  • The many tasks that health workers perform all have a common objective: to improve the state of health within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, by assisting them to take a strong role in controlling and managing their own health and lifestyles. One important responsibility Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers have, is to enhance communication between the medical staff and the Indigenous patients. Health workers can act as interpreters so that the doctor is clear about the symptoms and the patient has a good understanding of the diagnosis, treatment and medical advice given by the doctor. They can also promote a better understanding of the cultural beliefs and medical practices of both parties.

  • Between medical appointments, patients are often visited in their homes by health workers to see how they are doing. They keep progress notes, which are then stored in the client's medical file and on a database for access by their doctors. An equally important aspect of their work is to encourage Aboriginal families to become aware of the health of the whole community. They are encouraged by health workers to attend community meetings where they can learn more about health issues in general and about how to help prevent diseases prevalent in the Aboriginal community in particular.

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers need to have a good understanding of Aboriginal culture and lifestyle patterns. They must be of Aboriginal descent, as this ensures a shared understanding of the beliefs of their clients and that of the larger Aboriginal community.

  • The role of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health worker is demanding. You need good communication and negotiation skills, especially when relating to other health professionals. You also need to be supportive of clients and family members when helping them deal with health problems.

    ''It's rewarding to know that you have helped to educate people about health issues and that they are applying some of that knowledge. You see people watching what they eat and exercising because they are fully aware of their health problems and understand what they have to do to improve their condition,'' says an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health worker.

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online