The Aboriginal Health Strategic Plan 2018-2022 is launched.
Everyone in Sydney Local Health District is “invited to our place to get better” with the launch of the Aboriginal Health Strategic Plan 2018-2022.
“Closing the Gap” between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities is one of the biggest challenges facing our nation.
Our District aims to close the health gap by ensuring our attitudes and approach to service delivery and our strong commitment to improved health outcomes for Aboriginal people are characterised by respect, strong collaboration, empowerment and openness.
Chief Executive Dr Teresa Anderson, Director of Aboriginal Health George Long. Acting RPA General Manager Nobby Alcala and Professor the Hon. Dame Marie Bashir launched the plan at a special event on the Gloucester House lawn at RPA on March 20 as part of Close the Gap week.
The comprehensive plan is illustrated with elements from the beautiful artwork NGURANG DALI MANA BURUDI - A Place to Get Better by Aboriginal artist Lee Hampton.
The map in the centre of the artwork represents the District boundaries while the circle represents a pathway for Aboriginal people to gain access to better health care.
The 10th Close the Gap report released by the Australian Government last month outlined some positive health gains, with a decline in Aboriginal mortality rates, especially deaths from circulatory diseases such as heart disease and stroke, and a high rate of immunisation among Aboriginal children.
However, the life expectancy of Aboriginal people is still about 10 years less than non-Aboriginal people, an unacceptably wide gap.
Dr Anderson said our District must focus on improving health outcomes, reducing harm from risky behaviours and supporting families and communities to manage their health.
“The plan is a commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people living within our District and improving our services by making them culturally richer,” Dr Anderson said.
To do this, the District will strengthen both its mainstream health services and targeted Aboriginal programs and aim to empower communities to address health inequality through its partnership with the Aboriginal Medical Service Redfern, then Sydney Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Health Partnership Agreement and the local Aboriginal community.
The plan addresses the priority areas of:
Our District has one of the largest urban Aboriginal populations in NSW. Our initiatives include a commitment employing a workforce of at least 2.6 per cent Aboriginal people and implementing a cultural respect program throughout our 12-000 strong staff.
Professor Bashir said Aboriginal people were the “healthiest people on the planet” before European settlement 230 years ago.
“The wider population is beginning to understand that our first Australians had an incredible knowledge of health. They knew what nut or leaf or berry to rub on a wound to prevent infection, and I’m talking about thousands of years ago. In other words, natural medicine that was antibiotics,” she said.
Today, Aboriginal people have higher rates of smoking, harmful alcohol use, poor nutrition and socioeconomic disadvantage than non-Aboriginal people.
Professor Bashir urged Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to “work together side by side” to implement policies and programs to return Australia’s first peoples to “the best of health” and to show leadership to the rest of the country in Closing the Gap.
A photo gallery from the launch of the Aboriginal Health Strategic Plan 2018-2022 is available at www.slhd.nsw.gov.au/media/photos.html and a video is available here.