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RACGP appoints its first ever Aboriginal Censor


Morgan Liotta


9/12/2020 3:32:19 PM

Dr Olivia O’Donoghue wants to strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in the GP workforce.

Dr Olivia O’Donoghue
Dr Olivia O’Donoghue wants to improve access to training opportunities and successful Fellowship for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors.

‘I am extremely passionate about the quality and integrity of general practice training. High-quality and holistic training is essential for the delivery of effective primary care to our communities – especially our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.’
 
That is Dr Olivia O’Donoghue, a descendant of the Yankunytjatjara and Narungga Nations people and newly appointed Censor for RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.
 
‘As an Aboriginal woman who has achieved RACGP Fellowship myself, I know the journey to Fellowship well, and am honoured to be tasked with contributing to the high standards and integrity of the program,’ Dr O’Donoghue said.
 
‘I will endeavour to support all GPs in training on this journey and look forward to working with education and pathways.’
 
As members of the RACGP Board, censors play an important role in supporting all GPs in training on their path to Fellowship.
 
In addition to the first ever Aboriginal Censor, 2020 also saw two Aboriginal GPs receive RACGP awards – Associate Professor Brad Murphy is recipient of the Rose–Hunt Award, and Dr Josie Guyer is the GP in Training of the Year.
 
The strong representation of Aboriginal GPs comes amid the celebration of the 10-year anniversary of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, and plays a role in the college’s advocacy to close the gap and engage more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the GP workforce.
 
‘Australia needs many more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in leadership positions in healthcare, and beyond,’ Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Professor Peter O’Mara said. ‘Without this, we cannot hope to close the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes
 
‘I am immensely proud to be able to announce the appointment of our first ever Aboriginal Censor. This is a prestigious and important role, responsible for supporting all GPs in training as they work
towards Fellowship.’
 
Findings from the RACGP’s General Practice: Health of the Nation 2020 report show that 121 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students started studying medicine in 2020 – a 55% increase over the past three years.
 
In 2019, there were 69 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian General Practice Training Program, and 46 doctors graduated from Australian medical programs overall.
 
There were 404 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Australian medical schools in 2020, representing 2.7% of total domestic students. This has increased from 265 in 2014 (1.8% of total domestic students).
 
Health of the Nation identifies general practice as the preferred specialty for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical graduates.
 
However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remain significantly under‑represented in the health workforce, contributing to reduced access to health services for the broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.
 
‘Given the growth in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students, the RACGP hopes to see the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs in training increase within the next five years,’ the report states.

‘Growing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GP workforce is fundamental in closing the gap in life expectancy and health outcomes.’
 
Dr O’Donoghue’s role as Censor will include responsibility for maintaining the standards, fairness and integrity of the RACGP Fellowship program – the largest training program for GPs in urban and rural Australia.
 
With significant experience working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in urban and remote Northern Territory, Dr O’Donoghue is committed to continuing to improve health outcomes for Northern Territory communities.
 
Dr O’Donoghue is also passionate about cultural education and general practice training, having worked as a medical and cultural educator for Northern Territory General Practice Education.
 
‘I want to ensure there are effective strategies for access to training opportunities and successful Fellowship for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors, as there is much to be achieved in narrowing the gap in GP workforce equity,’ she said.
 
‘The challenges facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs in training are numerous and varied but not insurmountable, and I am proud that the RACGP is prepared to work with the National Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and myself as Censor to strive for improved outcomes for our doctors.’
 
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health GPs in training RACGP Censor


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Dr Irandani Anandi Ranasinghe-Markus   10/12/2020 7:57:36 AM

Congratulations Olivia! This has got to be the first step towards facilitating the changes that were discussed at the recent GP20 talk. Wishing you the very best!