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Connecting clinicians to the Aboriginal community

16 Jun 2022


The long-awaited return of a popular Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District mobile outreach service, Mootang Tarimi, is seeing Aboriginal communities ‘Live Stronger’ by taking health care out of the hospital and into the community to provide health screening, education and wellbeing care.

With reduced face-to-face contact due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Aboriginal Health Unit has continued to provide support using a dedicated phone hotline as well as providing cultural support, public health advice and meals to affected Aboriginal community members but knew that the connection that comes from having a yarn over a cup of coffee could not be replaced.

Aboriginal Health Worker, Donna Jory, says being back in the community has been beneficial for those who have been isolated throughout the past few years.

“We started with a wellbeing month and visited local services. Our mental health clinicians have come along with us to support those that want to have a yarn,” says Donna.

With strong partnerships across the region at Koolyangarra Aboriginal Child & Family Centre, Deadlee Gap Cultural Café Lawson, Blue Mountains Aboriginal Culture and Resource Centre, Merana Aboriginal Community Association and Sydney Regional Aboriginal Corporation, each visit is building trust and relationships with clinicians that some would otherwise not interact with.

“We know it can be hard for members of our community to build connections, especially with people from government organisations. We are using activities such as painting kindness rocks, or inviting people for a morning tea, so that trust can be cultivated, and a relationship established, before offering personalised health advice and support,” says Donna.

As part of the Mootang Tamari outreach service Dr Kristof Mikes-Liu and Matthew Russell, from our Mental Health team attended a Men’s Group at the Koolyangarra Aboriginal Child & Family Centre.

“The men shared with us their experiences, thoughts and concerns about how mental health services have and have not supported Aboriginal people. We heard them tell us in their own words what we could do to improve our services to support Aboriginal people, including the importance of Aboriginal artworks, access to art and craft material,” says Matthew, Director Mental Health.

“We are hoping to continue to drop into the Men’s group to hear directly from people about what we are doing and where we can do better to improve our support to Aboriginal community,” he added.

The community outreach visits continued over May and June and will run into July with special Men’s Health and Women’s Health visits.

“Because the demographics at each service are different, we adapt how we run the days based on where we go. Depending on the age group and audience, we might talk to women about mammograms, sexual health, or we might focus on newborn care,” says Donna.

“We are providing a mobile barber at our Men’s Health days during June and increasing visits with our clinicians from sexual health, cancer care and the blood borne viruses team,” she added.

“All members of our Aboriginal community are welcome to drop in, have a yarn, and find out how our health professionals might be able to support them,” says Donna.

If you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and want free health advice, call the Aboriginal Health Hotline on 1800 962 676 from 8am – 4pm Mon to Fri and find out when they’ll be at a location near you.