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Staff numbers at primary health-care organisations have increased, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations: Online Services Report-key results 2012-13, provides an overview of 260 Australian Government-funded
organisations-mainly primary health-care organisations-that aim to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

It presents findings on health services and activities provided, clients seen, staffing levels and challenges faced by these organisations.

The report shows that at primary health-care organisations, the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) staff employed increased.

'The number of FTE staff employed rose by over 20%, from about 5,500 as at 30 June 2012 to around 6,700 FTE staff as at 30 June 2013,' said AIHW spokesperson Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman.

'This led to an increased staff to client ratio. In every remoteness area, there were more staff per 1,000 clients than a year before.'

New analysis suggests some staff affect the number of client contacts more than others. Having more doctors, drivers and Aboriginal health workers significantly increased the average number of contacts per client.

In 2012-13, 205 (79%) organisations provided primary health-care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, 98 (38%) organisations provided social and emotional wellbeing or Link Up counselling services and 63 (24%) organisations provided substance-use services. Services were provided through 384 delivery sites, with most (91%) operating 5 days or more per week and 1 in 5 (21%) offering 24-hour emergency care.

Two-thirds of organisations (67%) were Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, 15% were other non-government organisations and 18% were government-run.

Organisations reported service delivery gaps in their communities, with 62% reporting gaps for mental health and social and emotional health and wellbeing.

Recruitment, training and support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff (70%) and staffing levels (58%) were reported as key challenges to providing quality services.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 11 August 2014

Further information: Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman, tel. (02) 6244 1146, mob. 0407 068 033 (for after-hours contact only)

Full publication: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations: Online Services Report-key results 2012-13