The national Closing the Gap framework commits to reducing persisting disadvantage in the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, with cross-government-sector initiatives and investment. Central to efforts to build healthier communities is the Aboriginal community controlled health service (ACCHS) sector; its focus on prevention, early intervention and comprehensive care has reduced barriers to access and unintentional racism, progressively improving individual health outcomes for Aboriginal people.

There is now a broad range of primary health care data that provides a sound evidence base for comparing the health outcomes for Indigenous people in ACCHSs with the outcomes achieved through mainstream services, and these data show: models of comprehensive primary health care consistent with the patient-centred medical home model; coverage of the Aboriginal population higher than 60% outside major metropolitan centres; consistently improving performance in key performance on best-practice care indicators; and superior performance to mainstream general practice.

ACCHSs play a significant role in training the medical workforce and employing Aboriginal people. ACCHSs have risen to the challenge of delivering best-practice care and there is a case for expanding ACCHSs into new areas. To achieve the best returns, the current mainstream Closing the Gap investment should be shifted to the community controlled health sector.

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