Executive Summary: International experiences show that marked improvements in Indigenous health can be enhanced through using culturally appropriate recruitment, retention and support strategies to increase the involvement of Indigenous peoples in education programs and health care delivery.

In particular Indigenous health professionals placed in the broader health system contribute to improvements in health of themselves, their families and communities. Moreover, overseas experience has also shown that strategies to provide non-Indigenous health professionals with appropriate education about Indigenous issues and health care also contributes positively to the health status of Indigenous peoples.

On many indices the health of Indigenous Australians is worse than that of non-Indigenous Australians, and that of a number of Indigenous populations overseas. Strategies implemented thus far in Australia to reduce morbidity and mortality rates of Indigenous people have largely not succeeded. Action is needed to ensure that there is a competent health workforce with the capacity to provide appropriate care for Indigenous people in both mainstream and Indigenous health services (Australian Health Ministers Advisory Committee, 2002).

This is extremely important as our current health systems continue to be attuned to white, Western values and modes of delivery and therefore are often seen by Indigenous people as inappropriate for their needs.