Cross-sector collaborations in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander childhood disability: A systematic integrative review and theory-based synthesis

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal for Equity in Health, 2014, 13 (1)
Issue Date:
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© 2014 Green et al.; licensee BioMed Central. Introduction: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia experience a higher prevalence of disability and socio-economic disadvantage than other Australian children. Early intervention is vital for improved health outcomes, but complex and fragmented service provision impedes access. There have been international and national policy shifts towards inter-sector collaborative responses to disability, but more needs to be known about how collaboration works in practice. Methods: A systematic integrative literature review using a narrative synthesis of peer-reviewed and grey literature was undertaken to describe components of inter- and intra-sector collaborations among services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with a disability and their families. The findings were synthesized using the conceptual model of the ecological framework. Results: Thirteen articles published in a peer-reviewed journal and 18 articles from the grey literature met inclusion criteria. Important factors in inter- and intra-sector collaborations identified included: structure of government departments and agencies, and policies at the macro- (government) system level; communication, financial and human resources, and service delivery setting at the exo- (organizational) system level; and relationships and inter- and intra-professional learning at the meso- (provider) system level. Conclusions: The policy shift towards inter-sector collaborative approaches represents an opportunity for the health, education and social service sectors and their providers to work collaboratively in innovative ways to improve service access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with a disability and their families. The findings of this review depict a national snapshot of collaboration, but as each community is unique, further research into collaboration within local contexts is required to ensure collaborative solutions to improve service access are responsive to local needs and sustainable.
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