NAIDOC week leads to more health assessments

Filip Vukasin

2/08/2022 1:16:08 PM

A WA clinic doubled the number of usual health assessments and has committed to completing a Reconciliation Action Plan.

Lockridge Medical Centre staff
Staff at Lockridge Medical Centre went above and beyond to support the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community during NAIDOC week.

A clinic in Western Australia more than doubled its usual number of health checks for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients after introducing free walk-in assessments during NAIDOC week.
Lockridge Medical Centre in Perth offered free MBS 715 Indigenous Health Checks to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients who came along during the week.
The idea behind these health checks is to improve a patient’s health and physical, psychological and social function, according to the MBS.
‘The health assessments were a great opportunity to offer support for preventive healthcare,’ Dr Kayla MacKinnon, a GP at the clinic said.
The clinic doctors were given additional spaces to meet demand and accommodate walk-ins. All doctors were rostered for one session per week, thereby sharing the experience.
Dr Shashi Ponraja, also a GP at the clinic, said it was ‘an excellent opportunity for outreach’ and ‘patients seemed to really appreciate the flexibility in the appointment setup’.
It was a team effort, led by Director Natalie Watts, head nurse Germaine McGriskin and administration support officer Joanna Harders.
‘All our nurses agreed to work additional shifts for the week to cater for walk-ins for NAIDOC week,’ Mrs McGriskin told newsGP.
Even COVID-19 illness within the clinic did not derail their plans.
‘Although COVID had other plans during the week, we managed to fit in every First Nations [patient] who walked [in] for the free health assessment,’ she said.
NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) week was celebrated 3–10 July. This year’s theme was ‘Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!’
‘For several years the practice has considered participating and highlighting NAIDOC week,’ Mrs Watts told newsGP.
‘This year the practice was contacted by a business development officer working within Medicare’s General Practice Indigenous Health Strategy department, advising management that our practice had been identified as having a significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population residing within the Local Government Area.’
Mrs Watts said this email ignited the motivation to prepare for NAIDOC week 2022.
‘Joanna Harders was instrumental in networking with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to identify areas of the practice where immediate improvements needed to be made prior to NAIDOC week,’ she said.
‘[This included] the installation of “Acknowledgement of Country” both in the practice and on our website, along with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags being displayed and the practice TV slides updated within the reception waiting area.’
The clinic banded together, wearing NAIDOC week 2022 t-shirts, regularly updating practice social media platforms with reminders of the walk-in health assessments, and supporting each other with the workload.
When reflecting on the success of their NAIDOC week experience and increased health assessments, Mrs Watts said that ‘success is measured in many ways’.
Other outcomes included local businesses providing the practice with vouchers and an invitation to attend a local primary school’s Karrak gatherings. They also agreed to undertake Aboriginal Health Workers through Marr Mooditj Training, with the hope of employing an Aboriginal Health Worker as a result.
‘Another way is to look at the networking, the collaboration and the improvement in preparing the practice to be a culturally safe healthcare home for our local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community,’ Mrs Watts said.
‘This was our practice’s first NAIDOC. By next year the practice will have a Reconciliation Action Plan and be accredited and a recognised member of Reconciliation Australia.’
These improved health services are intended to provide a lasting effect on the community, long after the end of NAIDOC week.
‘Our working party has met to debrief [on] NAIDOC 2022 and will start to prepare for 2023 in the coming months,’ Mrs Watts said.
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander NAIDOC week Reconciliation Action Plan Western Australia

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Dr Ashraf Grimwood   3/08/2022 9:22:59 PM

Great work by a committed and dedicated staff. Congratulations