On this coming Thursday, 17 March, many thousands of people are expected to gather at community events around the country celebrating the 10th anniversary of the community-driven Close the Gap campaign (not to be confused with governments’ Closing the Gap campaign, as explained here).
To help mark the anniversary, Professor Kerry Arabena, Chair of Indigenous Health at the University of Melbourne, invites Croakey readers to join a Twit-a-thon “Hour of Power” from 12 noon AEDT using the hashtag #CTG10.
During the #CTG10 hour of power, Kerry’s sister, Dr Danielle Arabena, a GP and medical educator in Queensland, will launch a new video profiling some of the joys of working in Indigenous health.
Read more below about the need to close some gaps in medical practice – and please make a note on your diary for 12 noon AEDT on 17 March.
Dr Danielle Arabena writes:
Each year the Indigenous Health Training Team from General Practice Training QLD (GPTQ) visits Indigenous registrars, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical services and key stakeholders.
Last year during these visits I was very disappointed to learn that not all GP practices offered MBS Item 715 Indigenous health checks, despite them identifying patients as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent.
After reviewing the curriculum for General Practice nationwide, I found there was a gap – with the importance of 715s not being formally taught as part of GP training.
With this in mind, I investigated ways GPTQ could look at closing this gap whilst improving both GP registrars’ and supervisors’ training, and the health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by working with the local community, Elders and Key Indigenous stakeholders (hence addressing the engagement gap).
As part of our visits to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Services within the GPTQ coverage area, we were able to make a fun and educational film project with Yulu Burri Ba Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health on Stradbroke Island.
We had the opportunity to involve the local Aboriginal community members, both adults and children, who starred in the project and we obtained a great deal of community support.
The project was created for two reasons.
Firstly to showcase the great sense of community that comes with working in an AMS to GPTQ registrars in the hope they may not only consider committing part of their GP training time to an AMS, but most importantly that all GP Registrars will be inspired to look further into providing Indigenous health services at a higher level than they currently may be doing. The aim is to create a workforce dedicated to closing the gap and further develop a system that supports good patient outcomes throughout the patient’s journey.
Secondly our mission was to promote Close the Gap and present Indigenous health in a refreshing light to the wider Australian community and those working in the health industry.
The video will launch on 17th March during the Twitter hour of power (a link will be added when it becomes available).
The film begins by asking doctors, how do they want to feel? It then follows a doctor as he transitions from a non-engaging work environment to working in the vibrant and engaging world of Indigenous health. He is taught traditional dance and interacts positively with staff and clientele. The entire film was designed to be fun and enjoyable for all who watch it.
Through partnering with local Indigenous communities, the IHT Team are always looking at building new processes, training events and cultural immersion opportunities where staff, medical health professionals and more broadly GPTQ’s stakeholders are able to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and what challenges/barriers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face when accessing health care.
Here are two initiatives currently under development:
- An Indigenous Health Training weekend; where approximately 50 GP Registrars, 5 medical educators (those not currently working in Indigenous health) will visit varying Indigenous communities within Qld to engage with the Indigenous Elders of the community who will share their knowledge around Indigenous health/healing. The local AMSs will be highlighted for their expert knowledge on Indigenous health and will co-present a session on 715 education in conjunction with GPTQ Medical Educators. As well, GPTQ will support the local Indigenous community through holding a market stall for artists to sell artwork and where feasible use Indigenous businesses to support the weekend (ie catering, transport, functions).
- We are creating strategies to tackle perceived barriers to patients’ access to the 715 health assessments at a GP practice level. One strategy involves the engagement of the local PHN to come and present a cultural education workshop to all the practice managers and staff at our annual conference so all practices in GPTQs territory are able to be signed up to close the gap.
• Dr Danielle Arabena is a GP and Indigenous health educator with GPTQ.
• For more reading about 10 years of Close the Gap, see here.
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• Feature image is sourced from Oxfam Australia.