Abstract: Despite a clear need, ‘closing the gap’ in health disparities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities (hereafter, respectfully referred to as Aboriginal) continues to be challenging for western health care systems. Globally, community health workers (CHWs) have proven effective in empowering communities and improving culturally appropriate health services. The global literature on CHWs reflects a lack of differentiation between the types of roles these workers carry out. This in turn impedes evidence syntheses informing how different roles contribute to improving health outcomes. Indigenous CHW roles in Australia are largely operationalized by Aboriginal Health Workers (AHWs)—a role situated primarily within the clinical health system. In this commentary, we consider whether the focus on creating professional AHW roles, although important, has taken attention away from the benefits of other types of CHW roles particularly in community-based health promotion. We draw on the global literature to illustrate the need for an Aboriginal CHW role in health promotion; one that is distinct from, but complementary to, that of AHWs in clinical settings. We provide examples of barriers encountered in developing such a role based on our experiences of employing Aboriginal health promoters to deliver evidence-based programmes in rural and remote communities. We aim to draw attention to the systemic and institutional barriers that persist in denying innovative employment and engagement opportunities for Aboriginal people in health.
Conte, Kathleen P, Gwynn, Josephine, Turner, Nicole, Koller, Claudia, Gillham, Karen E, 2019, Making space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community health workers in health promotion, Journal Article, viewed 28 November 2023, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=15340.