Aboriginal Health

The Mid North Coast (NSW) Division of General Practice has had a long history of involvement and contribution to the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health through award winning programs.  The key to the success of the many ground breaking initiatives has been the development of a close working relationship and collaborative programs with local Aboirginal Community Controlled Health organisations along the Mid North Coast of NSW.  The Division's leadership role within the National Divisions network covering a wide range of successful collaborative activities in Aboriginal Health were recognised in 2005 with the Austrlaian General Practice Network National Aboriginal and Torrest Strait Islander Health Award.  The Division was similarly recognised by NSW Health with a certificate awarded for nomination under the Aboriginal Health Category 'Working Together' award.

The Division was a formal partner of the Galambila Aboriginal Health Partnership (Coffs Coast), a cooperative framework established by a local working of interested stakeholders who were responsible for the establishment of the Galambila Aboriginal Health Clinic at Coffs Harbour in October, 1998.  Each partner made a commitment to the development of hte clinic.  The Mid North Coast Area Health Service provided accomodation for the clinic and transport for improved access and Aboriginal Health Staff.  The Mid North Coast Division of General Practice coordinated the employment of local GPs with an interest and understanding of Aboriginal Health issues.  NSW Health and the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (OATSIH) provided seed funding for the clinic.  Durri Aboriginal Medical Service provided admnistrative support and acted as the auspice body for the clinic.  Yarrawarra Aboriginal Corporation provided CDEP program participants to assist with clinic operations such as transport and administrative support.  Community representatives provided direction in the clinic development. 

Strong association with the Division resulted in support for the provision of clinic doctors and devleopment of a range of collaborative Aboriginal Health projects across the Division aimed at strengthening service capacity and better outcomes for the Aboriginal Community.

Since 1998 the Division has partnered with and supported Galambila with the provision of:

  • Governance Support
  • Management and Administrative support services
  • GP Services
  • Post Natal Depression Support Services
  • Provision of Psychologist Services
  • Provision of Psychiatrist Service under MSOAP
  • GP Accreditation support resulting in Accrediation
  • Executive recruitment
  • Strategic Planning facilitation
  • Engagement of Galambila staff in Division Program Advisory Groups
  • EPC for Aboriginal People - National Pilot project 

The impact of the collaborative partnership has seen the growth the Galambila Aboriginal Health clinic from operating 3 half days per week and averaging about 250 patients to now operating on a full time basis, average patient throughput over 650 presentations per month.  Not only is the clinic attracting new patients but people are continuing to return to the clinic since it commenced.  The Clinic now provides Aboriginal people access to a wider range of Multidisciplinary GP, Specialist and Allied Helath Services.  The clinic assists many clients with referral to other specialist and allied health services and provides patient transport to the clinic and specialist services.

In recognition of the Division's collaborative role in Aboriginal Health Development, OATISH approached the Division to develop and manage an Accrediation support project for Galambila and Bulgar Ngaru (Grafton) Aboriginal Health Clinics.  The Division completed the project in collaboration with staff from both clinics resulting in both clinics receiving full accreditaiton.  Subsequently, the Division was approached by the Alliance of NSW Divisions of General Practice to develop and manage similar accreditation projects for the Darrimba Maara and Bowraville Aboriginal Health Clinics in collaboration with staff from both clinics and the auspicing body, Durri AMS.

In addition to Galambila, the Division co-funded provision of GP services to Bowraville Aboriginal Health Clinic until like Galambila, the Clinic GP service became self sustaining.

The Divison also extends its program support activities to assist Aboriginal Health partners on the Mid North Coast, including allocation of Practice Support officers, ongoing Accreditation support, Governance, Management and Administrative support/advice, if and when sought, and responds to requests for support in areas such as strategic planning facilitation and staff recruitment.  Source and provides clinical governance advice, resource and service support to strengthen existing Aboriginal Health Service initiatives (Aboriginal Health Nutrition Program, Insfrastructure support).

Recently, the Division played an instrumental role in the recruitment of a Respiratory Physician to deliver outreach services to Bulgar Ngaru and Galambila Aboriginal Health Services.  The Division has been requested to manage this service program locally in partnership with both Aborigianl Health Services under the Indigenous Specialist Outreach Assistance Program (ISOAP).

The Division, in collaboration, introduced another highly successful Aboriginal Health initiative, the culturally tailored smoking cessation program, Give Up The Smokes (GUTS)  Based on the Division's long running  Quti for CATS (Chronically Addicated Tobacco Smokers) course, GUTS is an intesnive program adapted to target Indigenous smokers.  The course involves serveral 3-hour sessions and a range of support resources and information.  Tyan King, a Vascular Aboriginal Health worker from Galambila Aboriginal Health service, and fellow staff members worked closely with Dr Gillian Gould (who directs Quit for CATS) to modify the course.  Participants are given care plans and Nicotine Replacement Therapy provided under the Mid North Coast Partnerships in Aboriginal Health Care Partnership. 

Integrated approaches to diabetes care have also been developed under the leadership of the Galambila and Bulgar Ngaru Aboriginal Health Services, whose staff have actively contributed to the Division's Diabetes Integrated Care Program advisory committee.  The Division intregrated care program worked on models of care aimed at integrating GPs, private and public specialists, allied health and Aboriginal health workers in a chain of multidisciplinary diabetes care.  Building upon a new GP Diabetes Clinic model, the Division is providing part-time Diabetes Educator Services at Bulgar Ngaru, in service collaborative with Bulgar Ngaru and North Coast Area Health Service.

A recent opportunity that the Division is now working in collaboration with its Aboriginal Health partners include development and implementation of an ATSI Mental Health Education pilot program involving Bulgar Ngaru and Galambila Aboriginal Health Services, Southern Cross University, OATSIH, Private Psychiatrists and Division Psychologists.  The Division has managed to secure funding from various program and partner sources to underwrite this collaborative pilot program.

Another opportunity the Division is pursuing in collaboration with Durri ACMS, Bulgar Ngaru AMS, and Galambila Aboriginal Health Service, is the extension of a highly successful nutrition program developed by Bulgar Ngaru AMS, by strengthening resource support for the Bulgar Ngaru program and introducing the program to Galambila and Bowraville Aboriginal Health Services.  The collaborative program proposal has been funded under the Commonwealth Government funded 'Healthy Active Australia' initiative.

The Divison is also commited to contributing to the development of the Many Rivers Aboriginal Health 'Healthy 4 Life' program through active participation in the program consortium advisory group involving every Aboriginal Health Service from the lower Mid North Coast to the Tweed Border of NSW.

The Divisions leadership role and contribution to Aboriginal Health has been showcased within National publications such as the AGPN Dynamic Divisions publication, presentations and awards at National and State Health Forums.

More information and Resources for Aboriginal Health is included in the General Practice Support webpages

Attachments below are

  • Aboriginal health workers and Medicare Frequently Asked Questions
  • The Role of Aboriginal Health Workers
Aboriginal Health
Aboriginal Health Workers and Medicare - FAQs.pdf103.56 KB
The Role of Aboriginal Health Workers and General Practice Nurses in AMSs in NSW.pdf125.54 KB