Connecting and Empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Maternal, Child and Youth Health Workforce To Drive Cultural Change And Improve Health Outcomes

Mrs Heidi Atkins1

1Qld Child & Youth Clinical Network


Introduction: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (A&TSI) Maternal, Child & Youth Health Workers face significant unique workforce challenges which hinder efforts to improve health for their communities. Feedback through workshops with A&TSI Health Workers indicated they felt isolated, undervalued, had limited networking and training opportunities. As workforce and service delivery run in parallel, improvements in workforce will have a positive and direct impact on child and youth health outcomes.


The QCYCN undertook Indigenous-led statewide consultation to understand local and shared issues, map service structures and identify needs, including a forum with key stakeholders to identify solutions within the context of their roles and responsibilities.  An outcome was to establish a statewide governance model to foster collaboration, drive workforce culture change and ultimately lead to better health outcomes for A&TSI children, young people and their families.


A statewide governance model was established consisting of a Steering Committee (SC) and 5 local cluster network groups. Leveraging off the QCYCN has provided SC members with the platform to lead change from the ground up. The local cluster groups create a statewide collaborative and support the SC by acting as local cultural expert groups. QCYCN has received extremely positive feedback from Health Workers.


The SC is the driving force within Queensland charged with creating a positive, cohesive and productive workforce culture statewide. Through their leadership, an integrated and equitable statewide governance model has been established. This will produce better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, their families and communities and will have a positive contribution to Closing the Gap.

This work will produce a proof of concept for a collaborative, sustainable approach to workforce governance that is transferable to other specialties, service areas, organisations and jurisdictions.


Heidi Atkins is a passionate project manager with over 13 years experience in the health industry (Queensland Health and the UK) and has completed a Masters in Health Services Management. Heidi has leadership experience in coordinating and facilitating implementation of statewide strategic initiatives aiming to improve health outcomes for children, young people and their families and is the Principal Policy Officer for the Qld Child & Youth Clinical Network, leading the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Maternal, Child & Youth Health Workers project.