Dr Claire Griffiths

New partnership starts in northwest Tasmania

Media Release, Friday, 28 July 2023

Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and Department of Health

Aunty Deidre McDonald and Dr Claire Griffiths

Aboriginal health services in northwest Tasmania have welcomed their first doctor as part of a new placement program enabling doctors-in-training to work across the Tasmanian Health Service (THS) and Aboriginal Health Service (AHS).

Last week Palawa woman Dr Claire Griffiths began a 13-week placement working part time in emergency medicine at the Mersey Community Hospital and part time in community health services provided by the Aboriginal Health Service – Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre.

The program is a new partnership between the Department of Health and the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre aimed at enhancing links between the THS and AHS, and providing early career doctors with valuable experience in Aboriginal health.

As part of the placement, doctors-in-training will support delivery of primary health services at Tulaminakali Health Service in Limilinaturi/Devonport and AHS in Pataway/Burnie as part of a multidisciplinary team of medical, nursing, allied health and Aboriginal health workers.

Following Claire’s completion of the placement, the opportunity will be available to more Tasmanian doctors-in-training as an ongoing rotational placement.

Krystelle Jordan, the Office Manager for Tulaminakali, commends the program and said:

“It’s a unique opportunity for junior doctors to experience culturally appropriate health practices, and to gain a deeper understanding of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community.

“We are delighted to welcome Claire, a Palawa community member, as the first doctor to join us on this program.

“Working for community is very fulfilling and seeing Claire achieve her aspirations, will in turn be inspirational for the community.”

Claire said the placement provided the ideal opportunity to work towards a career in rural and remote medicine and work in Aboriginal health services.

“This rotation provides a great opportunity to work across emergency medicine and primary care – both of which are key components of rural and remote medicine,

“I have previously trained at the Rural Clinical School in Burnie and am now on the Rural Generalist Pathway to become a rural GP, so this placement will provide great experience and support my career aspirations.

“As a Palawa woman, it also provides a special opportunity to connect with community by working within Aboriginal health services for the first time since graduating.”

Department of Health Director of Rural Pathways Dr Lizzi Shires said the partnership was an exciting development that would provide doctors-in-training with valuable professional experiences and support their career choices to stay in the area.

“This new partnership will provide junior doctors with excellent training opportunities in Aboriginal andcommunity health through first hand experience working in the Aboriginal Health Service”, said Dr Shires.

“By providing doctors in training with valuable exposure to Aboriginal health and primary care, it will increase the likelihood they will choose to work in these fields in their future careers.”

The new position is funded through the Federal Department of Health and Aged Care’s John Flynn Prevocational Doctor Program, which allows hospital-based doctors-in-training to spend some time in community practice.

Krystelle Jordan, Office Manager, Aunty Deidre McDonald and Dr Sally Street