Media releases

March 15, 2016


Ahead of Close the Gap Day this Thursday, Medibank has announced the recipients of its 2016 Indigenous Grants, and reaffirmed its commitment to closing the health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

“Medibank is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of all Australians,” Karen Oldaker, Medibank General Manager of Wellbeing and Community, said.

“We’re working with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and investing in programs that are run by local leaders, and which are community informed and culturally tailored.”

“These organisations are best placed to provide evidenced-based, quality services to and in their local communities, and Medibank is proud to support them as they work to improve the health outcomes of Indigenous Australians,” Ms Oldaker said.

The life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is around 10 years less than non-Indigenous Australians1, and around 70 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are overweight or obese2.

“Medibank is serious about helping to address the health inequalities that sadly still exists between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other Australians,” Ms Oldaker said.

This year, Medibank has provided funding to the following Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations programs:

  • Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VIC) – The Coach Program

The Coach Program for Aboriginal children in 3 and 4 year old kindergarten and their families is delivered by an Aboriginal Health Worker and a Personal Trainer. It teaches children and their families about good nutrition and food choices, the benefits of drinking water over sugary drinks, and about sport and the importance of keeping active.

  • Gunditjmara Aboriginal Corporation (VIC) – After School Program for Young Women

Based at Warrnambool College, the program addresses the challenges faced by young Indigenous women in the area, and empowers them through a program of physical activity, healthy eating advice, and mental and wellbeing support including through connecting with culture and Elders.

  • Wuchopperen Health Service (QLD) – Traditional Garden

This program connects young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with Elders and teaches them about traditional foods and medicines. The program includes the development of a traditional garden to ensure that the knowledge of Elders can be captured and shared with younger generations.

  • Mallee District Aboriginal Services (VIC) – Wholistic health program

This program provides local families, children and youth with a nutrition program and associated budgetary advice for at-risk families to improve their long-term health outcomes, and a Community Kitchen program. Children and Elders also participate in a Garden Project, which not only delivers lessons about food, nutrition and healthy eating, but allows families to share cultural knowledge. A school engagement program also promotes healthy eating, healthy lifestyles and physical activity.

“With the support of our grants, these programs will be able to continue to do the fantastic work they do for and in their local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” Ms Oldaker said.

“These community-informed programs help change lives and attitudes, and improve the health and wellbeing of participants who will then be able to take what they’ve learnt home and share it with their families and the wider community.”

Medibank first formalised its commitment to reconciliation in Australia in 2012 through its Reconciliation Action Plan. Medibank is currently half-way through its third Plan and on track to meet its RAP targets by June this year.

In addition to its Indigenous Grants program, Medibank has so far:

  • Introduced an organisation-wide Indigenous Employment Strategy that promotes greater employment equality, stronger employee appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture, and better career pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees within Medibank. 
  • This includes a partnership with Maxima to develop an Indigenous School Based Traineeship Program which provides senior high school students with the opportunity to work at Medibank and obtain a nationally recognised qualification. Medibank has also this year launched an Indigenous Internship Program with Career Trackers. 
  • In addition, Medibank’s senior executives spend time in the Aboriginal community of Wadeye in the Northern Territory, and meet with community leaders, visit families, and see the inner workings of the health clinic and aged care facility to gain appreciation, understanding and insight into the challenges facing remote communities.
  • Partnered with Yalari, which educates and empowers Indigenous children and provides quality, secondary education scholarships at leading Australian boarding schools for Indigenous children from regional, rural and remote communities.
  • Continued to lead the inaugural Health Reconciliation Industry Networking Group (RING) established in 2012, which comprises of health organisations from across Australia and is developed in consultation with Reconciliation Australia to explore opportunities to collaborate on addressing the health gap.

Medibank’s General Manager of Wellbeing and Community, Karen Oldaker, is also a member of the Business Council of Australia’s Indigenous Engagement Task Force, which brings together leaders from some of Australia’s leading corporations to identify, promote and share the experiences of member companies in supporting economic development among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

“We all – governments, business, organisations – have a responsibility to work together to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and of all Australians,” Ms Oldaker said.

“There is a lot more work to be done, and it can only be achieved through a whole of community effort; in true partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and people.”

- ENDS -

1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – Life Expectancy –

2 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – National Key Performance Indicators for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care (Results from December 2013) –


About Medibank:

Medibank Private Limited is Australia’s leading private health insurer, with close to 40 years of experience delivering better health to all Australians. We look after the unique and individual health cover needs of 3.9 million members through our Medibank and ahm brands and deliver a wide range of programs to support health and wellbeing in the community. Members can access our products and services via an extensive retail, online or telephone network. We also deliver a range of complementary services including health management for government and other clients, and distribute travel, life and pet insurance. We are a strong advocate for a sustainable private health system that delivers value, transparency and affordability. Medibank Private Limited was listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2014 and is headquartered in Melbourne. For more information, visit

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