Improving Care for Aboriginal Patients Program (ICAP)

The Improving Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Patients (ICAP) Program was introduced in Victoria in 2004 and is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). ICAP is an extension and enhancement of the 1982 Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer (AHLO) program.

ICAP builds on the work done by AHLOs across Victoria to improve the access of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to mainstream acute healthcare services. The employment of an AHLO remains an essential element for the cultural safety of services delivered to Aboriginal patients within the Victorian acute healthcare system.

Further to this, the ICAP program requires all parts of the health services to take a whole of organisation approach to Aboriginal cultural safety. 

This needs to be demonstrated across key result areas:

  • Engagement and partnerships

Hospitals establish and maintain partnerships, and continue to engage and collaborate with Aboriginal organisations, Elders and Aboriginal communities.

  • Organisational development

Hospitals have an organisational culture that: acknowledges, respects and is responsive to Aboriginality; can deliver culturally responsive healthcare through organisational development that includes CEO, boards and operational staff; and includes culturally responsive planning, monitoring and evaluation for the organisation.

  • Workforce development

Workforce training, development and support is provided and appropriately targeted to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal staff at all levels of the organisation. This includes strategies to support staff retention, professional development, on-the job support and mentoring, cultural respect and supervisor training.

  • Systems of care

Culturally competent healthcare and a holistic approach to health are provided to Aboriginal patients with regard for the place of family. Culturally responsive healthcare supports access, assessment, care planning, patient support, discharge planning, referral, monitoring and recall processes.  In particular, accurate identification (asking the question’) of all Aboriginal people is an essential part of this work.

Aboriginal cultural safety

Cultural safety is everyone’s business, together we can make a positive impact on the health, wellbeing and safety of Aboriginal Victorians. Aboriginal cultural safety is a directive outlined in the Victorian Health Services Statement of Priorities agreement’(Part A) and supported by DHHS' Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework.

National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards (NSQHS)

The ICAP program aligns with the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards commencing in 2019. The standards require health services across Australia to meet six actions with the objective to improve access and outcomes for Aboriginal peoples. The purpose of the standards is to ensure that health services:

  • increase the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal people
  • develop career pathways for Aboriginal people working in clinical and non-clinical roles
  • develop and strengthen partnerships between both Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal community-controlled organisations
  • improve the cultural safety for Aboriginal workers and service users.

Please contact us for more information.