There continue to be disparate health outcomes for people who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. The aim of the present study was to measure whether there were any differences in in-patient experiences between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and those without an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background.


Random samples of people were invited to complete a survey following admission at the hospitals at Peninsula Health, Victoria, Australia. This survey was based on the Victorian Patient Satisfaction Monitor. Open-ended questions were also asked to gauge perspectives on how the services could better meet needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.


A total of 154 responses was obtained. There were differences between the two groups of participants in the following variables: respect of privacy, representation of culture, assistance with meals and access to a culturally specific worker if needed. This was reflected in thematic analysis, with three main themes identified: (1) interactions with staff; (2) the challenging environment; and (3) not just about me, but my family too.


There were systemic differences in in-patient experiences. Healthcare services have a responsibility to make systemic changes to improve the health care of all Australians by understanding and reforming how services can be appropriately delivered.

What is known about the topic? 

There is a disparity in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and those who do not identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. In addition, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have different interactions within healthcare services. Many rural health services have models that aim to deliver culturally appropriate services, but it is unknown whether the same challenges apply for this group of Australians within metropolitan health services.

What does this paper add? 

This paper identifies the structural supports that are required to help close the gap in health care provision inequality. Many of the key issues identified are not people but system based. Healthcare administrators should consider the factors identified and address these at a whole-of-service level.

What are the implications for practitioners? 

Many practitioners are aware of the challenges of providing culturally appropriate services. This research raises awareness of how traditional healthcare is not a one size fits all and flexibility is required to improve health outcomes.