Closing the Gap frontline workers have their say

Closing the Gap frontline workers have their say

12 November 2013

Empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to better manage chronic health conditions is the focus of todays Closing the Gap workshop being held at the Gold Coast tomorrow.

AML Alliance will be launching a short video, Closing the Gap: messages from the frontline which features the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people who are making a difference to primary health care services in their communities, through Medicare Locals.

AML Alliance Chair, Dr Arn Sprogis said the messages from the frontline is a stark reminder to all Australians that the passion and determination to improve health care and to reduce the gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared to all Australians is happening every day.

The messages are powerful, he said.

In the community that I work in there are more people living in one aged care centre comparable to the whole Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population that are over 65 years. Once upon a time I thought I was a dead man walking. Closing the Gap is the way to ensure that our old people stay and remain to teach our language, our culture and skills to the young people. My grandkids need me Henry Neill, Sunshine Coast Medicare Local

This serves as a testimonial to the nation that health care is not just clinical but very personal as well, Dr Sprogis said.

Tomorrows workshop is being hosted just prior to the National Primary Health Care Conference 2013 Keeping people well and out of hospital.
Key highlights in the program include:
  • Connecting health professionals for a smooth patient journey: Partnerships between Western Sydney Medicare Local and the Aboriginal Medical Service Western Sydney
  • A three-way whole of health Aboriginal health partnership agreement plan (Central Coast NSW Medicare Local)
  • Diabetes clinic in a rural and remote area: A partnership approach (Central QLD Medicare Local)
  • How racism impacts on health service delivery to Aboriginal men (New England Medicare Local)

National Primary Health Care Conference 2013 program

Snapshot of Close the Gap activities happening in Medicare Locals:
  • North Coast ML is providing a health care team for residents of Balund-a (a correctional facility for Indigenous men near Tabulam) to look after their physical and mental health needs
  • Local Indigenous people are enjoying a better connection to spirit, culture and country by attending Healthy Culture days and Mens Yarning Circles, held by Fremantle MLs Aboriginal Health Team; plus local, pregnant Indigenous women are being supported by an Aboriginal Health Maternity Worker at Fremantle ML, providing transport to appointments and referrals to other support services, such as accommodation
  • Implementation of a ground breaking partnership with Flinders University and Lower Murray ML which sees the LMML Indigenous Health Project Officer leading the implementation of the Flinders Care Model across the Medicare Local region on behalf of Flinders University
  • Darling Downs South West QLD (DDSWQ) MLs Health Services Centre grows to meet local needs- services offered include diabetes education, chronic disease management, transport services, and assistance with prescription collection for Indigenous patients, plus DDSWQ ML provides cultural awareness training and education to health professionals working with Indigenous youth
  • Gold Coast ML has partnered with the Gold Coast SUNS AFL team through the No Boundaries Program, to provide indigenous children with role models to promote importance of education, healthy eating and being active
  • Mount Isa teenagers from the Flexible Learning Centre created a Youtube hit with the help of The Indigenous Hip Hop Project and Central and North West QLD ML, addressing petrol sniffing and smoking in the community
  • Goldfields-Midwest MLs Development and implementation of Shine Above Chronic Disease project educating schools with high Indigenous populations on prevention of chronic disease.