West Moreton Health Indigenous Hospital Liaison Service team (from left) Cassandra Tratt, Lesley Robinson, Kristal West, Cindy Tyson, Sarah Fraser, Don Pickwick, Gwen Blom and Maurice Woodley.
West Moreton Health Indigenous Hospital Liaison Service team (from left) Cassandra Tratt, Lesley Robinson, Kristal West, Cindy Tyson, Sarah Fraser, Don Pickwick, Gwen Blom and Maurice Woodley.

Health service works to close gap for First Nations peoples

DURING COVID-19, West Moreton Health has embodied the theme of Reconciliation Week of 'In This Together'.

West Moreton Health chief executive Dr Kerrie Freeman said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 due to a higher incidence of chronic health conditions.

"On National Sorry Day on Tuesday, we reflected on the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples," Dr Freeman said.

"Commemorations this year might have moved online due to COVID-19-related restrictions, but our commitment to improving health outcomes for First Nations peoples in the West Moreton area is unwavering.

"We are working to close the gap in health outcomes, engaging with staff and the community to deliver co-designed, culturally safe and secure services that support holistic wellbeing."

Dr Freeman said the week was an opportunity for West Moreton Health to rededicate the health service to improve the health outcomes of the region's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers.

"We cannot undo the past, but we can work together now to ensure the future is one of equity, including the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to live healthy lives," she said.

"The life expectancy of First Nations peoples is seven to eight years less than other Australians. This is completely unacceptable, and we remain committed to Closing the Gap.

"Particularly during COVID-19, we have let First Nations people know that our staff are still here, providing culturally safe and appropriate care. Our message has been if you are sick, it is safe to come to the hospital or make an appointment to see your GP."

Dr Freeman said, even during a difficult few months for everyone, the community had shown its strength.

"Since COVID-19 began, our clinical, community and liaison staff have been checking in and making sure our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities stay safe across our health services," Dr Freeman said.

This year, Queensland-wide commemoration events have moved online due to COVID-19.

Last year's event involved a sea of 800 hands with personal messages of support spilling out of the Yarning Circle at the East St entrance of Ipswich Hospital and on to the grounds.

These messages of hope and support now line the walls of the Indigenous Hospital Liaison Service Office in the hospital.



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