Enablers and barriers to accessing healthcare services for Aboriginal people in New South Wales, Australia

Davida Nolan-Isles, Rona Macniven*, Kate Hunter, Josephine Gwynn, Michelle Lincoln, Rachael Moir, Yvonne Dimitropoulos, Donna Taylor, Tim Agius, Heather Finlayson, Robyn Martin, Katrina Ward, Susannah Tobin, Kylie Gwynne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
73 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Australia’s healthcare system is complex and fragmented which can create challenges in healthcare, particularly in rural and remote areas. Aboriginal people experience inequalities in healthcare treatment and outcomes. This study aimed to investigate barriers and enablers to accessing healthcare services for Aboriginal people living in regional and remote Australia. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with healthcare delivery staff and stakeholders recruited through snowball sampling. Three communities were selected for their high proportion of Aboriginal people and diverse regional and remote locations. Thematic analysis identified barriers and enablers. Results: Thirty-one interviews were conducted in the three communities (n = 5 coastal, n = 13 remote, and n = 13 border) and six themes identified: (1) Improved coordination of healthcare services; (2) Better communication between services and patients; (3) Trust in services and cultural safety; (4) Importance of prioritizing health services by Aboriginal people; (5) Importance of reliable, affordable and sustainable services; (6) Distance and transport availability. These themes were often present as both barriers and enablers to healthcare access for Aboriginal people. They were also present across the healthcare system and within all three communities. Conclusions: This study describes a pathway to better healthcare outcomes for Aboriginal Australians by providing insights into ways to improve access.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3014
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Communication
  • First nations
  • Health policy
  • Health services accessibility
  • Health services administration
  • Indigenous
  • Primary health care
  • Trust


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