First-of-its-kind role in NSW to help close the gap in western Sydney

Aboriginal health practitioner program lead Simone-Cherie Holt is no stranger to western Sydney. She grew up in Guildford and previously worked as a physiotherapist at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

Aboriginal people have better health outcomes when another Aboriginal person is involved in their care – which is why Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) has a new role dedicated to recruiting and supporting Aboriginal health practitioners.

Simone-Cherie Holt is the first Aboriginal health practitioner program lead in NSW. Having spent the past 11 years supporting Aboriginal students at the University of Sydney, her new role is dedicated to bringing Aboriginal health practitioners to WSLHD.

“An Aboriginal health practitioner’s role is to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples accessing our services, throughout all stages of their healthcare journey,” Simone-Cherie said.

It is a unique role with a broad scope of practice that allows Aboriginal health workers to combine clinical skills with cultural knowledge.

“My role is really about seeing where Aboriginal health practitioners can fit into our current services, or to ensure they are considered when creating new models of care.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people die eight years younger than non-Indigenous people on average, among other health gaps identified in the Closing the Gap partnership.

Simone-Cherie said it’s important to acknowledge the current and historic injustices that still affect many Aboriginal people accessing healthcare services today.

This is where Aboriginal health practitioners have a real opportunity to use their amazing skillset and knowledge to bridge the gap in our healthcare system.

“They can be a constant in someone’s healthcare journey, improve relationships, improve the quality of treatment and overall improve outcomes,” Simone-Cherie said.

“They also bring a unique perspective and can encourage their team to see things in a different way. I truly believe no-one means to be culturally incompetent but they don’t know who to ask.

“Aboriginal health practitioners increase the cultural capacity of our services and add true value to their team. They really make a difference, and that’s what working in health is all about.”

To learn more about becoming an Aboriginal health practitioner or bringing an Aboriginal health practitioner into your team, email

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