Aboriginal community controlled health services: leading the way in primary care

Med J Aust. 2014 Jun 16;200(11):649-52. doi: 10.5694/mja13.00005.


The national Closing the Gap framework commits to reducing persisting disadvantage in the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, with cross-government-sector initiatives and investment. Central to efforts to build healthier communities is the Aboriginal community controlled health service (ACCHS) sector; its focus on prevention, early intervention and comprehensive care has reduced barriers to access and unintentional racism, progressively improving individual health outcomes for Aboriginal people. There is now a broad range of primary health care data that provides a sound evidence base for comparing the health outcomes for Indigenous people in ACCHSs with the outcomes achieved through mainstream services, and these data show: models of comprehensive primary health care consistent with the patient-centred medical home model; coverage of the Aboriginal population higher than 60% outside major metropolitan centres; consistently improving performance in key performance on best-practice care indicators; and superior performance to mainstream general practice. ACCHSs play a significant role in training the medical workforce and employing Aboriginal people. ACCHSs have risen to the challenge of delivering best-practice care and there is a case for expanding ACCHSs into new areas. To achieve the best returns, the current mainstream Closing the Gap investment should be shifted to the community controlled health sector.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Community Health Services / standards*
  • Health Services, Indigenous / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander*
  • Process Assessment, Health Care / methods*
  • Public Health*