A new centre of excellence in the WA city of Geraldton is dedicated to shaping a workforce of healthcare workers attuned to Aboriginal culture and health issues.
The primary health care and training centre is part of the Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service.
It began operating early this year but was officially opened this month.
GRAMS CEO Deborah Woods said the new centre was a big step forward in the service’s vision for tackling the health issues affecting Aboriginal people.
“Such a centre is a huge step in shaping a future workforce that is specifically trained to work within Aboriginal organisations and with Aboriginal colleagues, patients and community,” Ms Woods said.
The centre for excellence was developed with the WA Centre for Rural Health and blends primary health care with training, workforce development and research opportunities.
Located 424km north of Perth, the centre offers child and maternal health care; social, emotional and wellbeing care; and treatment for chronic disease.
It also includes a new training area in which GRAMS and registered training providers can deliver training opportunities for people working in Aboriginal health.
Ms Woods said the centre was already being recognised for the role it would play in creating the Aboriginal health care workplace of the future.
“By shaping a healthcare workforce that understands the nuances of Aboriginal culture, we will be able to encourage more Aboriginal people to access existing health and sickness prevention services, which will in turn not only improve existing conditions but prevent them from occurring in the first place,” Ms Woods said.
“It’s time we took real action to overcome the many health disadvantages facing Aboriginal people.”
Ms Woods said Aboriginal people lived an average of 10 years less than non-Aboriginals.
Aboriginal people were also more than twice as likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease as non-Aboriginal people, and were more than three times likely to have type two diabetes.
Indigenous elder and leading Aboriginal performers, musicians and writers Dr Richard Walley was MC for the opening of the centre.
He said he felt so strongly about attending the event in Geraldton that he gave up the opportunity to attend a launch in Perth for the Fremantle Dockers’ inaugural guernsey that he had custom designed.
“I would not have missed this occasion for anything and I thank GRAMS for the invitation to be a part of this significant occasion,” he said.
“Health is something that is holistic and has been in our culture for some 2000 generations. What we are actually doing today is tapping into some of that ancient knowledge and putting it together with today’s technology to get a result that will be fantastic for not only for Aboriginal people but for humanity in general.”
By Wendy Caccetta