Developing viable allied health service and workforce development models in rural and remote Aboriginal communities.

Ms Donna-Maree Towney1

1Indigenous Allied Health Australia, Deakin West, Australia


Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) is a member-based organisation with over 1,400 members, made up of allied health students and professionals. We acknowledge and respect the critical role both the allied and Indigenous health workforce plays in improving health and wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. IAHA advocates for systemic improvements to better enable health professionals to achieve this.

Working in collaboration with community and key stakeholders, IAHA are leading a project to develop an Indigenous allied health workforce in remote and rural Australia.

The project has identified two locations that have access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), with a high population of Indigenous people with disability:
• Tennant Creek, NT,
• Palm Island, QLD; and
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability are more disadvantaged and generally do not access health care for a variety of reasons.
IAHA has progressed this project to determine there is a significant and critical need for consistent allied health care within remote and rural locations.

By developing an Indigenous allied health workforce, we are:
Providing opportunities for Indigenous peoples with employment and career pathways
Providing sustainable employment which will improve the economy;
Providing communities consistent person and family centred care that is culturally appropriate and safe; and
Increasing health outcomes for Indigenous peoples who cannot easily access health care

Workshop participants will consider key recommendations from the final RIAHP report and discuss practical solutions of ensuring viable allied health services and workforce development can be sustained.


Donna-Maree Towney is a Gunditjmarra woman.
Donna-Maree worked in the Australian Public Service (APS) for 15 years and proudly joined the IAHA team in May 2017 and is currently working on the Remote and Rural Indigenous Allied Health Workforce Development Project (RIAHP).

Whilst in the public service, Donna-Maree worked with several government agencies to develop strategies to employ and retain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian Public Service, as well as boost government departments’ knowledge of cultures and value of employing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.