NACCHO Aboriginal health :Four Aboriginal Doctors – Closing the Gap on Palm Island by establishing new medical centre

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Our whole team is made up of diverse people, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal staff and our achievement comes from being connected. Whilst we are all different people, from different backgrounds, we have a commonality in our commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and this enables our success,”

“My links are to Palm Island. I love Palm Island and that we are now able to offer equitable health services.”

Dr RB

Dr Raymond Blackman (pictured above)

Four Aboriginal doctors have started practicing at a new general practice, child and family-focused medical centre on Palm Island, Queensland, streamlining healthcare in the region and creating a blueprint for Indigenous healthcare across Australia. The move heralds a new dawn in healthcare in the remote corner of Australia, a fantastic milestone for the community.

The centre named The Palm Island Children and Family Centre was established by Dr Raymond Blackman with his colleague Dr Vicki Stonehouse. A key focus of the centre is to encourage all kinds of professionals to work in Aboriginal health and to work on Palm Island.

Dr Blackman said he was relieved the people of Palm Island no longer had to endure “second-class medical treatment” as he believes primary healthcare, one where there is an on-going relationship between GP and patient, has been proven to have better medical outcomes over time, something that he is now realising within the Palm Island community.

He also said that until now, tertiary hospital system medical care was all that was available.

“We have GP skills, an interest and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and in our clinic we have the necessary support structures to enable better outcomes on Palm Island and this needs to be replicated throughout the country,” Dr Blackman said.

Dr Blackman’s leadership and commitment  to his peers was officially recognised last week when he won the 2014 Wakapi Anyiku Doctor Oomparani Award  (Warramungu language for ‘Aboriginal doctor for everybody’).

The award was presented on Wednesday 5 March 2014 by the Indigenous General Practice Registrar Network (IGPRN) at the Future of General Practice conference in Canberra, held annually by General Practice Registrars Australia (GPRA).

The award was announced by IGPRN Chair Dr Aleeta Fejo, who applauded the team for their leadership and commitment to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“I would like to acknowledge the significant contribution that Dr Blackman has played in both setting up this centre and in supporting and encouraging his GP registrar peers across Australia.

“The new centre on Palm Island is for everybody within the community but its real strength and focus is in its significant impact providing culturally appropriate primary health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families,” she said.

Dr Blackman, on receiving the award, prepared the following comment:”There wasn’t a GP clinic on Palm Island before November 2013. We have created a clinic as part of the Child and Family Centre with four Aboriginal male doctors working together with two non-Aboriginal female doctors. To my knowledge, this centre is the first of its kind in Australia.

“Each of the four Aboriginal doctors working in the newly created clinic have been participants of the IGPRN and have been instrumental in getting the centre off the ground.

“Our whole team is made up of diverse people, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal staff and our achievement comes from being connected. Whilst we are all different people, from different backgrounds, we have a commonality in our commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and this enables our success,” Dr Blackman said.

“My links are to Palm Island. I love Palm Island and that we are now able to offer equitable health services.”

You can hear more about Aboriginal health and Close the Gap at the NACCHO SUMMIT

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The importance of our NACCHO member Aboriginal community controlled health services (ACCHS) is not fully recognised by governments.

The economic benefits of ACCHS has not been recognised at all.

We provide employment, income and a range of broader community benefits that mainstream health services and mainstream labour markets do not. ACCHS need more financial support from government, to provide not only quality health and wellbeing services to communities, but jobs, income and broader community economic benefits.

A good way of demonstrating how economically valuable ACCHS are is to showcase our success at a national summit.

SUMMIT WEBSITE FOR MORE INFO

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