Retention of the Aboriginal health, ageing, and disability workforce: protocol for a mixed methods study

John Gilroy, Kim Bulkeley, Folau Talbot, Josephine Gwynn, Kylie Gwynne, Mandy Henningham, Caroline Alcorso, Boe Rambaldini, Michelle Lincoln

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Background: Despite a plethora of research into Aboriginal employment and recruitment, the extent and nature of the retention of frontline Aboriginal people in health, ageing, and disability workforces are currently unknown. In this application, frontline service delivery is defined as Aboriginal people who are paid employees in the health, ageing, and disability service sectors in roles that involve direct client, participant, or patient contact. There is a need to identify the factors that inhibit (push) and promote (pull) staff retention or departure of this workforce from the sectors. This study will provide additional insight about this topic.

Objective: The objective of this project is to uncover the factors that influence the retention of frontline Aboriginal workers in the health, ageing, and disability workforces in New South Wales (NSW) who do not have university qualifications. The aim of the proposed project aims to discover the push and pull factors for the retention of the frontline Aboriginal workforce in the health, ageing, and disability sectors in NSW in relation to their role, employment, and community and design evidence-based strategies for retaining the Aboriginal frontline workforce in the health, ageing, and disability sectors in NSW.

Methods: The proposed research will use a mixed methods approach, collecting both quantitative and qualitative data via surveys and interviews to capture and represent the voices and perspectives of Aboriginal people in a way that the participants chose.

Results: Indigenous research methodologies are a growing field in Aboriginal health research in Australia. A key strength of this study is that it is led by Aboriginal scholars and Aboriginal controlled organizations that apply an Indigenous methodological framework throughout the research process.

Conclusions: This study uses a mixed methods design. The survey and interview questions and model were developed in partnership with Aboriginal health, ageing, and disability service workers rather than relying only on research publications on the workforce, government policies, and human resources strategies. This design places a strong emphasis on generalizable findings together with an inductive approach that explores employers and workers' lived experience of the Aboriginal health workforce in NSW. Excluding workers who have graduated from university places a strong focus on the workforce who have obtained either school or Technical and Further Education or registered training organizations qualifications. Data collection was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, and results will include the unique experiences of Aboriginal workers and employers delivering services in an extremely challenging organizational, community, and personal context.

International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID): PRR1-10.2196/25261.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere25261
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2021
Externally publishedYes

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.


  • Indigenous health
  • disability
  • ageing
  • Indigenous methodologies
  • Indigenous
  • Australia
  • Aboriginal


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