APHTI trainees work to improve healthcare for their mob

Seaneen Wallace and Natasha Larter are paving the way for Aboriginal people and their children through a unique health training program that uses both their lived experience and academic knowledge to improve health outcomes for the future.

The Aboriginal Population Health Training Initiative (APHTI), which is a three-year public health training program for Aboriginal people, aims to not only strengthen the Aboriginal workforce but also increase the focus on Aboriginal health issues that are affecting our communities.

As trainees of the program, Seaneen and Natasha are currently completing a placement at Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (SCHN) where under the guidance Dr Karen Zwi, Head of Community Child Health and Priority Population and APHTI Project Coordinator, they are contributing to projects that will not only benefit the future health outcomes for Aboriginal people and their children across SCHN but also across wider NSW, now and into the future.

Natasha, who is in her final year of the APHTI, was most recently involved in leading the conceptualisation, implementation, and now evaluation, of the SCHN Aboriginal Health Strategic Plan.

“There is something really powerful and rewarding knowing that you’re contributing to changing health outcomes for our own people. You have the ability to combine your own lived experience and learnt academic knowledge to assist in working in the community context,” Natasha said.

That is really valuable and such an asset for LHDs and Specialty Health Networks to have to improve Aboriginal health and I’m proud to be part of it,” Natasha said.

For Seaneen, who is in her second year of the APHTI, her work has been focused on the development of the SCHN Aboriginal Health Impact statement, assisting the Consumer Engagement strategy for the Network’s Redevelopment projects and managing a NSW Health project for the Child Sexual Assault Service.

“Something that I’ve recognised after being in this role for 18 months is that having public health skills paired with an Aboriginal cultural lens is a really unique asset to have,” said Seaneen.

Both Natasha and Seaneen have also completed placements at South East Sydney Local Health District and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), where they have worked to support the communicable diseases team when COVID-19 first hit, contributed to the ‘Vaccines For Our Mob Report’ and assisted with the roll out the Aboriginal Go4Fun health promotion program as part of NSW Health’s Physical Health Program and Healthy Eating initiatives.

Following the program, Natasha and Seaneen hope to continue their careers into the healthcare industry and further their influence as proud advocates for their mob.  

Today, on National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day (4 August), we celebrate the strength and culture of our children as well as the important work that is being done across our Network to improve healthcare for these children so every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child can grow up to have the best and brightest future.