Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), a national not for profit, member-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health organisation, describes leadership as having the ability to inspire, unite and mobilise others to influence change. Health leaders do this by striving to ‘improve clinical and quality of life indicators and the wellbeing of the health system’.
Within the health context, leadership has been shown to, directly and indirectly, impact the quality of care. IAHA asserts that culturally responsive health leadership is essential to eliminate racism, transform the health system and improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and all Australians.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing can be transformed through collective action led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities. This is supported by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan, which states, “Improving the health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal people can be achieved by local Aboriginal people determining and owning the process of health care delivery. Local Aboriginal community control in health is essential to the definition of Aboriginal holistic health and allows Aboriginal communities to determine their affairs, protocols and procedures”.
The strength and foundation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leadership are cultures. This has been demonstrated by the visionary leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who lead Aboriginal community health services. The establishment of these services implicitly included several vital concepts: the importance of cultural holism in health, non-racist and culturally safe healthcare as essential for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and community development (understanding the social determinants of health and those locally-driven initiatives are more likely to be successfully utilised).
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leadership recognises the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and ensures strategies and initiatives are locally relevant and are a cultural match. This is demonstrated in the work of many in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health workforce who, in addition to discipline-specific capabilities, draw upon cultural knowledge, practices and holistic views of health to provide a high standard of culturally safe and responsive care for their clients.
To achieve our vision and priorities, IAHA engages in national and jurisdictional committees, advisories, boards with governments and stakeholders focused on allied health workforce development and policy, Indigenous health policy, service delivery, and cultural safety.