APA lends voice and action to closing the gap in health

APA RAP artwork

APA lends voice and action to closing the gap in health

APA RAP artwork

The importance of National Reconciliation Week (NRW) lies in the 2023 theme, ‘Be a voice for generations’, with Reconciliation Australia calling on all Australians to be a voice for reconciliation in tangible ways, for a more just, equitable and reconciled country for all.

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) launched its Innovate 2022-2024 Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) with the vision for all Australians to value and recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge, connection to land, and ways of healing, and to create stronger relationships that are free of racism and based on trust and respect.

As a leading body in the healthcare sector, the APA is committed to this vision and to providing a strong voice to honour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander generations past, and support improved health outcomes for generations present and future.  

Proud Palawa man and APA National President Scott Willis said that the actions delivered in the first two years of the Innovate RAP demonstrate the APA’s strong and ongoing commitment to reconciliation.

“The APA has progressed many key actions in the RAP, including our influence with government to advocate for greater access to health services and improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, our delivery of education for a culturally safe physiotherapy profession, and providing pathways for the greater representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the profession,” Mr Willis said.

“Australia’s healthcare system still produces inequitable outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and there is much to be done. As a core commitment of our RAP, we continue to call on Government to invest in a long-term strategy for health equality, to fund access in rural and remote areas, to support allied health in the new First Nations Health Worker Traineeship Program and to embed appropriately trained, culturally safe physiotherapists into Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services,” said Mr Willis.

The APA has collaborated with The University of Melbourne and the Australian Physiotherapy Council, to deliver the Cultural Safety Training for Physiotherapists course aimed at reducing the 22 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were racially discriminated against by health professionals pre-pandemic1.

To enable a pathway for greater representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within the physiotherapy workforce, the APA provides four opportunities to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander physiotherapists, including university degree and leadership scholarships, APA and specialty group memberships and APA conference bursaries. 

“These opportunities remove barriers for physiotherapy students and clinicians to pursue higher learning and professional excellence and they give the physiotherapy profession a wealth of experience in diversity, history and cultures that we wouldn’t have otherwise,” Mr Willis said.

The APA is also committed to aiding truth telling, listening, cultural bravery and allyship through The Deadly Physios podcast which will enter a new phase in 2023. Season three will focus on the theory and practice of allyship in this year of the referendum and is set to be launched in NAIDOC Week.

“I’m proud of what we’ve achieved so far, but there’s more to be done in what is a significant year for all Australians in progressing reconciliation. 80 per cent of Australians believe the creation of a national representative Indigenous body is important and 79 per cent believe such a body should be protected under the Constitution2.”

“The APA supports The Voice to Parliament and stands beside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander physiotherapists as we work towards a more just Australia that is opposed to racism, inequity and injustice,” Mr Willis said.



Cultural safety in health care for Indigenous Australians: Monitoring Framework, summary (no date) Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Available at: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/indigenous-australians/cultural-safety-health-care-framework/contents/summary  

2 2022 Australian Reconciliation Barometer (2022) Reconciliation Australia. Available at: https://www.reconciliation.org.au/publication/2022-australian-reconciliation-barometer/ 


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