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Aboriginal Art - David Dunn

Let it Begin With Us

February 23rd, 2018

Anton Barnett-Harris

Chief Executive Officer

Australian Physiotherapy Council

In December 2017 the Council commissioned renowned Indigenous artist, David HG Dunn.  The brief was to create an inspirational and aspirational piece of artwork that exemplifies our organisation.   At the heart of this journey was our fundamental commitment to improve the experience for all those who come into our orbit, as well as for the patients who ultimately benefit from our role as the gatekeepers of the physiotherapy profession in Australia.

During our extensive consultation with David, we acknowledged that as the starting point – be it for the Australian physiotherapy students undertaking one of our accredited courses or our overseas qualified physios seeking to make a life here – their journey begins with us.

But that’s only part of the story.

We live in a country where there is an undeniable and shameful chasm between health outcomes for our Indigenous Population and non-Indigenous Australians.  The challenge we face is how – in our governing capacity – we can make a profound difference and effect a meaningful change in the Health landscape for all Australians.

And with that clarity, comes awesome responsibility.

So not only are we committed to ensuring that every person who connects with the Council – be it international candidates or Education Providers who are training physios of the future – is afforded the best possible experience each and every time they connect.  But equally as critical, is that every physio undergoing our rigorous and exacting processes and courses are competent to provide the best possible health outcomes for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Like any organisation we are eternally evolving and learning, but what we know irrefutably is that health care services (allied or otherwise) that are respectful of, and receptive to, the health beliefs, practices, norms as well as cultural and linguistic requirements of diverse patients, result in improved health outcomes.

For our pivotal allied health sector that champions ease of movement, holistic wellbeing and restoring people to their very best, we recognise that humanity, embracing diversity, championing cultural sensitivity and competencies is just as vital as the profession we govern. And it’s these elements that have seamlessly coalesced into David’s masterpiece – “Let it Begin with Us”.

Today we dispense with platitudes and focus on an honest, transparent journey of enlightenment.  Tokenism and box ticking has no place in Health, no place in Australia and no place in our Council.

We commit to learning.  We want to do it better.  We must do it better.  No pitches, no platitudes and nothing piecemeal.

We will ensure that prior to practicing, every physio qualified in Australia or beyond our shores will be culturally competent and afford the same compassion, understanding, respect and ultimately the same health outcomes for all their patients.  Through cross-cultural learning opportunities that promote awareness, education and socio-cultural understanding, we are determined to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Yes, we regulate a healthcare service that is extolled as being one of the best in the world, but if we are not adequately safeguarding the health of Indigenous Australians, then as far as I am concerned, we are failing miserably.

With the much-anticipated launch of our inaugural Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan later this year, we are hopeful that we will exceed our own expectations of further developing warm and enduring relationships with, and opportunities for, collaborating and championing, our Indigenous Brothers and sisters.  So from this day forward, let it begin with us.  That’s our promise and our pledge.

Aboriginal Art - David Dunn

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