Aboriginal Medical Services
General practice in Indigenous health
The Aboriginal Medical Services provide Aboriginal community-controlled care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people.
When I work in Indigenous health I get so much out of it, from meeting my patients, from a cultural perspective, from a learning perspective.Dr Cameron Halliday, GPTQ Registrar
Working at an AMS gives you an insight into how primary health care works in a cross-cultural setting. You’ll improve your understanding of Indigenous health problems and issues, develop your skills in culturally safe communication and, most importantly, make a contribution to ‘closing the gap’ in Indigenous health outcomes. The unique challenges of working in an AMS are matched by invaluable rewards. In an AMS clinic, you will gain the skills to adapt your approach, and even your world view, as you explore the intricacies of Indigenous culture.
Supervisors at Aboriginal Medical Services have endorsed special skills in Aboriginal health and are committed to passing on these skills to the next generation of doctors. At all these posts, you will be using item numbers related to Indigenous health on a daily basis. All posts are accredited for FRACGP while a few are suitable for FACRRM. Some rural posts may be suitable for FARGP, but this is something you’d need to discuss with the individual training provider. Except where specified, all posts fall under supervision level 1, meaning the supervisor takes direct responsibility for all patients. Registrars are generally expected to work weekdays only, with no weekend or after-hours responsibilities.
What is it like to work in an AMS?
Hear one registrar’s perspective on working in an AMS and why he feels it was one of the best moves he made.
Carbal Medical Services
Carbal Medical Services offers high-quality health care and health promotion services to ATSI communities, priding itself on delivering a culturally appropriate service in treating Indigenous patients, and supporting young doctors as they learn to do the same. Both clinics are determined to provide world-class medical services to the ATSI community, supported by a team of dedicated professionals and support staff. Carbal take a flexible approach to their processes and systems, continually reviewing them to ensure they meet the changing needs of all doctors. Carbal currently has 12 GPs/registrars across its two clinics and advocates a team approach.
Located in Zone 1, Carbal Medical Centre Warwick opened in January 2015, after data gathered by the Mobile Outreach Boomerang Van in the region determined the need for an ATSI clinic. Since then, it has enjoyed rapid growth and a great reputation as a teaching clinic thanks to a committed team of doctors, nurses and support staff. By September 2015, there were approximately 900 clients on the books, 85 percent of whom identified as ATSI. Registrars are expected to attend from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm weekdays.
Located in Zone 2, Carbal Medical Centre Toowoomba is committed to providing registrars with consistent, ongoing support. Weekly education sessions allow GPs to expand their knowledge and skills in a more formal setting. Each consult room is equipped with a duress button. Supervisors at the clinic have endorsed special skills in women’s health, men’s health, sexual health medicine and acupuncture. Registrars are expected to attend from 8.30 am to 5.00 pm weekdays.
Goolburri is a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing holistic and culturally appropriate healthcare services for ATSI people in Toowoomba and surrounds. It delivers comprehensive primary health care, family support and aged care services with the individual needs of the ATSI community in mind. Its ultimate aim is to strengthen the family and community bonds of ATSI people by giving them the education, tools and support to take control of their own health and well-being. Goolburri values teamwork and encourages its staff to collaborate on decision making and provision of care.
Goondir Health Services Dalby
Goondir Health Services provides holistic primary health care and medical services to ATSI people. Goondir, which means “Medicine Man”, places an emphasis on comprehensive preventative health care, management of chronic disease and patient education. Located in Zone 1 in a vibrant agricultural hub, the Dalby clinic has a range of modern facilities, including onsite dental and pathology. It also benefits from regular visits from specialists and allied health services. The clinical team includes a mental health counsellor, Aboriginal health workers, receptionists and a transport team. Working in collaboration with the counsellor, you will learn about many of the most important issues facing the ATSI people, including the ongoing effects of the Stolen Generation and substance misuse. Registrars can expect to receive excellent support from the whole team and will reap the benefits of an extensive induction program. Registrars are expected to attend 8.30 am to 5.00 pm weekdays, with an early 3.00 pm finish on Fridays.
Located in Zone 3, Kambu Laidley is a cosy little rural practice employing only one vocationally registered GP, one nurse, one receptionist and one community liaison officer. This small team serves a large catchment area, and all staff make great efforts to stay up to date with all aspects of medicine to serve the needs of ATSI people in the Lockyer Valley region to a high standard. As further evidence of the team’s commitment to the community, Kambu goes out of its way to find transport options for patients despite the lack of a transport officer. All staff undergo training in workplace health and safety, and chaperones are available for home visits and any other situation where safety may be a concern. Kambu also offers a program of cultural mentoring to help you get the most out of your relationships with ATSI people. Registrars are expected to attend from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm weekdays.
ATSICHS (ATSI Community Health Service) Brisbane
ATSICHS Brisbane provides health care throughout the wider Brisbane community. The focus of all its clinics is to improve the health and well-being of ATSI people through a holistic approach, and its client base reflects this. ATSICHS emphasises the importance of chronic disease prevention, early detection and quality management, while also providing timely acute care when necessary. All Brisbane ATSICHS clinics receive support from visiting allied health and medical specialist services. By maintaining these collaborative relationships, the clinics are able to coordinate care for chronic disease, complex child health and other complicated cases. ATSICHS believes that it offers “one of the few immersive experiences in Indigenous primary health in the greater Brisbane area” for registrars.
ATSICHS Brisbane maintains a high standard of safety, enforcing strict policies and procedures with regard to managing conflict, aggressive clients and inappropriate staff behaviour. Registrars can even access external counselling services free of charge, no matter what the reason. ATSICHS Brisbane values inclusion and goes out of its way to welcome new GPs and their families and help them become part of the community.
At ATSICHS Northgate, you can work under supervision level 2, meaning you take joint responsibility with the clinic’s GPs for individual patients. Registrars are expected to attend from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm weekdays, with a late 5.00 pm finish on Mondays.
ATSICHS Woolloongabba stresses the importance of passing on knowledge, skills and initiatives to its staff and to the doctors of the future. It fosters a learning culture by constantly improving its services and processes, and setting aside time and money for training activities as a matter of priority. They provide a range of forums for staff to share experiences and evaluate changes, including weekly staff meetings, weekly teaching sessions, frequent one-on-one sessions for registrars and monthly GP meetings. All staff receive swipe cards and duress alarms for safety. Registrars are expected to attend from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm weekdays, with a late finish of 5.00 pm on Mondays.
Acacia Ridge (outer metro)
ATISCHS Acacia Ridge is located within the Murri School, an independent school for ATSI students. The clinic therefore has a major focus on supporting the health needs of the many students that use it. ATSICHS Acacia Ridge is accredited for Level 2 supervision, meaning you take joint responsibility with the clinic’s GPs for individual patients. Registrars are expected to attend from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm Tuesday to Thursday. The practice is closed on Mondays and Fridays.
Browns Plains (outer metro)
ATSICHS Browns Plains is accredited for Level 2 supervision, meaning you take joint responsibility with the clinic’s GPs for individual patients. Registrars are expected to attend from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm weekdays, with a late finish of 5.00 pm on Mondays.
Logan (outer metro)
ATSICHS Logan is co-located with a subsidised dental service and the exercise program Work it Out at the local PCYC gym. It also works with a transport support service to improve accessibility for patients. Registrars are expected to attend from 8.00 am to 4.30 pm weekdays, with a late finish of 5.00 pm on Mondays.
The Moreton Bay region is home to over 8,500 ATSI people, and in its ATSICHS clinics, around 95 percent of patients identify as ATSI. These clinics will become increasingly important over the coming decades, with the ATSI population of the Greater Brisbane area predicted to increase from 40,000 to 130,000 over the next 30 years. Between 2011 and June 2014, 3,700 people became regular patients of the Moreton ATSICHS clinics, including 1,800 at Morayfield. About one-third of these patients had a chronic medical condition, and for many of them it was the first time they had ever been able to access primary health care.
Moreton’s ATSICHS clinics offer experienced supervisors; excellent support staff; social care team support, including in-house social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist and ATODs worker; an IUIH cultural mentoring program; fortnightly small-group learning run by an IUIH medical educator; and multidisciplinary team meetings and case conferencing. Visiting specialists include a psychiatrist, a general physician, an elderly care physician and a developmental paediatrician. All staff undergo training in workplace health and safety.
Morayfield (outer metro)
ATSICHS Morayfield was established in 2011 as a response to the need for specific ATSI primary health care in the Moreton Bay region and now employs two GPs. Registrars are expected to attend from 8.30 am to 5.00 pm weekdays.
Caboolture (outer metro)
ATSICHS Caboolture opened in 2015 as the fourth Moreton ATSICHS clinic. It is the most highly equipped clinic, featuring 10 consulting rooms, a phlebotomy room, a fixed optometry room and even a dental clinic. It also benefits from a wider range of visiting specialists than the other Moreton clinics, including specialists in addiction medicine, paediatrics and ENT, as well as an extensive range of allied health services. ATSICHS Caboolture currently sees over 500 patients per month, and this number continues to grow. Chaperones are available at all times. ATSICHS Caboolture is accredited for Level 2 supervision, meaning you take joint responsibility with the clinic’s GPs for individual patients. Registrars are expected to attend from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm weekdays.
Strathpine (outer metro)
Registrars are expected to attend from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm weekdays.
Inala Indigenous Health Service
The Inala Indigenous Health Service (IIHS) is one of Australia’s leading ATSI health services. Unlike many other Aboriginal Medical Services, it places a deep emphasis on research and teaching, with its many research projects and publications leading to the recent appointment of a research director. IIHS looks for registrars with an enthusiasm for improving the health of the ATSI population and a willingness to find new approaches to do so. That said, IIHS remains committed to making change at a grassroots level by providing culturally safe holistic health care across its Centre of Excellence as well as its allied health clinic, outreach service for women’s and children’s health, and research and community facility. All staff are trained in workplace health and safety. Registrars are expected to attend from 8.30 am to 5.00 pm weekdays.
Kambu delivers a vast array of services for the wider community, including chronic disease management, sexual health screening, wound management and health action plans. Kambu has a great team of support staff, including RNs, ENs and Aboriginal health workers. Both clinics are associated with allied health services, including physiotherapy, podiatry, dietetics, psychology, psychiatry, occupational therapy, diabetes education, dental, speech pathology, pharmacy, audiology and optometry.
The Goodna clinic is supported by a social care team, which includes an in-house social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist and ATODs worker. It also benefits from regular visits from specialists, including a psychiatrist, a general physician, an elderly care physician and a developmental paediatrician. The Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) provides a cultural mentoring program as well as fortnightly small-group sessions with medical educators. Multidisciplinary team meetings and case conferencing give staff an opportunity to share and collaborate. All staff undergo workplace health and safety training, and chaperones are available as needed. Registrars are expected to attend from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm weekdays, with late finishes of 5.00 pm on Mondays and 7.30 pm on Thursdays.
In addition to its primary clinic, Kambu Ipswich has a children and family centre that offers mothers and children access to holistic antenatal and postnatal care. A social health service provides counselling and support to ATSI people, including drug and alcohol counselling, social and emotional well-being counselling, prison visits and services, school health checks and mentoring, men’s and women’s groups, and mental health advocacy. Visiting specialist services include cardiology and endocrinology.
Yulu-Burri-Ba (YBB) prides itself on providing “safe, friendly, confidential and culturally appropriate ATSI primary health care”. Its clinics offer bulk billing and are designed in line with community needs and relevant ATSI health frameworks. With the concept of community control in mind, YBB strives to involve clients in the planning, delivery, management and evaluation of health initiatives, and uses needs-based criteria for service provision and resource allocation. Its issue-based programs cover areas such as nutrition, physical activity and chronic disease. YBB’s loyal client base gives registrars the opportunity to build real relationships with ATSI clients and provide continuity of care. YBB employs doctors with extensive experience in AMS and is committed to passing on that expertise through its excellent training programs. YBB makes an effort to provide clients with a variety of diagnostic and treatment modalities, not only to maintain a high standard of care, but also to give its staff the opportunity to learn and develop new skills. Registrars have access to the IUIH cultural mentoring program and fortnightly one-hour small-group learning sessions with an IUIH medical educator. All YBB practices enforce workplace health and safety procedures and stress the importance of a professional, respectful workplace.
YBB Capalaba serves the Aboriginal community of the Redlands area. Registrars are expected to attend from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm on weekdays.
YBB Wynnum provides health support services to the Aboriginal community of Brisbane’s eastern bayside suburbs. Registrars are expected to attend from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm weekdays, with a late finish of 5.00 pm on Mondays.
Dunwich, North Stradbroke Island
Dunwich is the largest township on North Stradbroke Island and is home to most of YBB’s clients. Registrars are expected to attend from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm on weekdays.