Photo: Dr Derek Chong joined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Unit team members at the Longreach Hospital NAIDOC week celebration. From left: Ronell Patuwai, Brandon Graham, Patricia Brotherton, Karen Mills, Cheryl Hooper, Dr Derek Chong and Kerry Thompson.

Central West Hospital and Health Service has announced the formation of a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Unit as part of regional events marking this year’s NAIDOC Week.

NAIDOC Week this year falls between 7–14 July and has the theme – Voice Treaty Truth: Let’s work together for a shared future.

Central West Health Chief Executive Jane Hancock said NAIDOC Week was an appropriate time to announce the new unit, which would have members based in Longreach, Blackall, Barcaldine and Winton, with outreach services delivered across the health service.

Ms Hancock said the new health unit would comprise all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker positions across the health service.

The unit will have eight staff members initially, expanding to 15 over the next few months.

“The team will be responsible for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander liaison services and ensuring the health service is culturally capable,’’ she said.

“The formation of this highly focussed unit is an important part of our strategy to engage deeply with First Nations peoples in our region.

“As a health service, we are strongly committed to improving our services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents and to delivering them in culturally appropriate ways.

“But achieving this requires much more than the provision of clinical services, it requires us to have an understanding and respect of cultural differences and needs, and a commitment to applying this understanding across all areas of the health service.

“This is what our new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Unit will help us to do and why we have announced it for NAIDOC Week.

“The unit will help improve access to culturally competent and safe primary health care through greater participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the workforce and improved cultural competence of the health service and individuals.

“It will help us deliver effective, efficient and coordinated health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Central West region.

“As such, the new unit marks a significant step forward in helping to close the healthcare gap.

“However, we can only improve these health outcomes through working together and continually striving to meet the specific needs of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health consumers and it is fitting that this is the theme of this year’s NAIDOC Week.’’

Ms Hancock said the new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Unit could be accessed through any Central West Health facility in the region.

As well as announcing the formation of the new health unit, several events are being undertaken across the health service to mark NAIDOC Week.

This include:

  • Week starting 8 July – staff morning teas and lunch events at Winton Multipurpose Health Service, Longreach Hospital, Alpha MPHS, Blackall Hospital and Barcaldine MPHS.
  • 8 July – community event (in partnership with Winton Shire Council) – dinner at the Winton Neighbourhood Centre.
  • 9 July – community event (in partnership with Desert Channels Queensland) – dinner at the Desert Channels Queensland Office in Longreach.
  • 11 July – community event (in partnership with Blackall-Tambo Regional Council) – dinner at the Blackall Cultural Centre.
  • 12 July – community event (in partnership with Central West Aboriginal Corporation and Barcaldine Regional Council) – dinner and trivia at the Barcaldine Bowls Club.

Queensland’s first Murri psychiatrist Dr Derek Chong will be the special guest speaker at all the events listed above.

Ms Hancock said NAIDOC Week provided an opportunity for all Australians to join and recognise the outstanding achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the valuable contributions they continued to make to the region, the state and the country.

  • NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee.
  •  Its origins can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920s which sought to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of Indigenous Australians.
  •  For more information on NAIDOC Week visit: https://www.naidoc.org.au/

ENDS