Why It's Important to Ask
“Are you of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?” .....
Recording Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Status
To know if we are providing services in the right way, health professionals need to know if people are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin. This is important because:
- Health Care Services are required to record this information for reporting purposes.
- Knowing helps us to provide culturally responsive healthcare to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, clients, their families and communities.
With this knowledge, health care providers can consider the cultural needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and their family, and the possible involvement of additional services such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander liaison officers or health workers. 
The health care workforce needs to ask everyone this question -
It's not possible to rely on a person's appearance.
This will be one of the first enquiring questions you will ask in your first interaction with a client.
Queensland Health have developed a series of resources about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identification, including:
VACCHO have developed a series of three short videos about improving recording of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status. The three videos cover:
- Why it's important to ask people if they are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander,
- How to ask the question and respond to difficult questions, and
- How to complete a quality improvement cycle to increase accuracy of recording.
REMEMBER: Determining whether a client identifies as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander is only part of the issue. As a matter of principle, an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person should be treated as an individual with individual needs, and not stereotyped. Remember that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people are not the same and what may be appropriate for one may not be appropriate or relevant for another.