NSW Mental Health Minister Kevin Humphries has told a conference on Aboriginal mental health that the government approach to the sector has transformed in recent years, and is starting to deliver results.
Mr Humphries told delegates initiatives like traineeships for young indigenous mental health workers are changing the industry.
He said tackling issues surrounding mental health is the key to addressing wider disadvantages.
“Many people have got issues that inter-generationally have not been dealt with, but we are getting better at doing that,” he said.
“Aboriginal people are speaking up more about what they want – they want to retain their culture, but they also want to step into the mainstream and all the opportunities that provides.
“How we get a blend of that I think is fundamentally important to our general society.”
Mr Humphries said the number of Aboriginal people within the State’s mental health workforce continues to grow.
He said many Aboriginal people are reluctant to access mainstream health services – but training and employing Aboriginal staff can bridge that divide.
“One of the best ways that we can break down disadvantage is to make sure we have got more indigenous people in the workforce,” he said.
“It is good for those employees, and we know more Aboriginal people will access mainstream health services if they can see people from their own background in that service delivery unit.”
This article first appeared on ABC News on 5 March, 2014.