Beyond the pipeline: a critique of the discourse surrounding the development of an Indigenous primary healthcare workforce in Australia

Chelsea Bond, Mark Brough, Jon Willis, Janet Stajic, Bryan Mukandi, Condy Canuto, Shannon Springer, Deborah Askew, Lynnell Angus, Tara Lewis
2019 Australian Journal of Primary Health  
A central strategy in addressing health disparities experienced by Indigenous people has been based on a concern with workforce improvement. In this paper, the Indigenous Australian healthcare workforce literature since 1977 is reviewed and its scope of concern, as being often limited to questions of 'supply', is critiqued. The pipeline metaphor, whether used explicitly or implied, regularly focuses attention on closing the gap on Indigenous representation within the health workforce. The
more » ... ion though is the discourse concerning Indigenous Health Workers (IHWs), where questions concerning the legitimacy of the role continue to abound within a workforce hierarchy where community knowledge, though shown to be crucial to culturally safe health service provision, is trumped by the other health professions whose knowledges and legitimacy are not in question. This contrast exemplifies the need to examine the working of power not just 'supply'. The pipeline metaphor is disrupted with concerns about a range of other 'gaps' - gaps in the recognition of Indigenous knowledges, in organisational structures, in governance and in self-awareness by the health professions of their whiteness. As the health system continues to measure workforce development in terms of pipeline capacity, our study questions what happens beyond the pipeline.
doi:10.1071/py19044 pmid:31619320 fatcat:dqtkcmdworcb5bbcndr6mtejvy