New director for Aboriginal health strategy Braiden Abala is determined to grow the Aboriginal workforce at Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD).
Braiden has decades of public policy experience across Australia and overseas, particularly in the fields of health, child protection and workforce development.
“I’m very excited by the opportunities and the challenges for WSLHD,” Braiden said.
“Western Sydney possibly has the largest Aboriginal population in the country, but currently only 0.9 per cent of our staff are Aboriginal.
“I’m really keen on making sure we have a workforce that reflects the community that we service. For Western Sydney that means we need to improve the Aboriginal workforce to 2.5 per cent, in all streams of work and across all levels.”
As an Iwaitja, Mudiamo and Torres Strait Islander man, Braiden was raised in Darwin with a strong connection to country and saltwater, including engaging in traditional hunting and gathering practices as a child – that continue through to today.
“Although”, Braiden says cheekily, “it’s a little hard hunting magpie goose down here, given this ancient animal only lives in the top end of Australia.”
One of Braiden’s proudest career achievements was managing the Commonwealth project for a national reform agenda to improve safety and quality standards of care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health consumers.
These standards are now embedded into the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards (second edition), and represent a great opportunity for health services to partner with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and help to bridge the gap in health inequities.
Braiden said increasing the proportion of Aboriginal staff can help ensure Aboriginal patients are greeted and treated in a culturally appropriate manner, which will lead to improvements in patient outcomes and follow-up.
“A key thing for me is making sure Aboriginal staff feel supported and appreciated, and reckon Western Sydney LHD is an employer of choice for Aboriginal people,” Braiden said.
“I’ve said to all the Aboriginal staff that I’ve met so far, whenever you’re around, come and knock on the door. I’m here. Let’s chat”.
“I want to make sure that people feel productive in their roles, and that WSLHD provides opportunities for Aboriginal staff to develop professionally and grow their skills across their career with the district.”