The Improving Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Patients (ICAP) program was established in 2004 in recognition that Aboriginal Victorians experience poorer health and lower life expectancy than the general community. Many Aboriginal people are reluctant to attend hospitals and, when they do, may have more acute and complex health issues. In addition, under-identification of Aboriginal patients continues to hamper policy and service development based on service access and health needs.
The Improving Care for Aboriginal Patients (ICAP) program is delivered through 41 hospitals in Victoria. A key element to the ICAP program is the employment of Aboriginal hospital liaison officers.
The ICAP program aims to:
- Improve accurate identification of all Aboriginal people presenting to Victorian hospitals and area mental health services
- Improve access for Aboriginal people to Victorian hospitals and area mental health services
- Support Victorian hospitals and area mental health services to provide high quality, holistic and culturally appropriate health care, referrals and wrap-around care for Aboriginal people
- Recognise that high quality, culturally safe health care for Aboriginal people is an organisation-wide responsibility and, not just the responsibility of designated Aboriginal liaison officers
- Promote partnerships between Victorian hospitals, area mental health services and Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, and other services in the planning and delivery of health care for Aboriginal people.
Changes to the Aboriginal Weighted Inlier Separations (WIES) funding model commenced in 2020-21. These funding changes support the ICAP program. The changes aim to strengthen cultural safety and provide greater accountability of the funding. The Aboriginal health funding changes will strengthen the whole of organisation response to cultural safety, increase Aboriginal hospital liaison officer employment and Aboriginal staffing more broadly, and emphasise partnerships between Aboriginal communities and hospitals.
The funding changes require health services to address eight domains of cultural safety through an annual planning and reporting process:
- CEO/Executive leadership
- Employment of Aboriginal hospital liaison officers
- Engagement and partnerships with Aboriginal organisations
- Identifying health needs of Aboriginal population and plans to address
- Cultural safety training
- Creating a welcoming environment
- Improving patient identification
- Monitoring and accountability
The eight cultural domains align with the department's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural safety framework, the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards (NSQHSS) and the aims of the ICAP and KMHLO programs
Improving Care for Aboriginal Patients Program Guidelines