March 18, 2021

Closing the Gap

The objective of Closing the Gap (the National Agreement) is to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and governments to work together to overcome the inequality experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and achieve life outcomes equal to all Australians.

The National Agreement has been developed in partnership between Australian governments and the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (the Coalition of Peaks).

Our Koori Maternity Service (KMS) and our Narrun Wilip-giin, Northern Health’s Aboriginal Support Unit, have been busy providing ever-improving services for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and Northern Health staff members. Below are a couple of the initiatives they were responsible for over the last year.

Koori Maternity Service Women’s Health Physiotherapy Clinic

The Northern Health’s Koori Maternity Service aims to provide accessible and culturally appropriate pregnancy care for Koori families in the north. Early motherhood is a critical time where early intervention, comfort and reassurance can make a big difference to a woman’s post-natal experience.

The addition of a Women’s Health Physiotherapist to the KMS team aims to ensure Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander women are receiving appropriate multi-disciplinary post-natal follow-up.

Historically, there has been an under-representation of referral to outpatient physiotherapy services of Koori mothers during their ante-natal & post-natal journey. Now, these women are routinely offered a 6 week post-natal physiotherapy assessment.

Due to COVID-19, all appointments thus far have been via Telehealth with face to face appointments to commence in coming weeks. Despite the limitations of Telehealth appointments, all women who have participated in a KMS physiotherapy appointment have said they found the appointment helpful and 85 per cent of patients said they would be likely to recommend the service to friends or family. 

Aboriginal Women’s Health Promotion Workshops

Narrun Wilip-giin, Northern Health’s Aboriginal Support Unit, ran a health promotion Women’s Health Workshop for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander women aged 18 to 44 years in December last year as well as one last week. 25 participants registered, and, over Zoom, listened to knowledgeable speakers on subjects such as cervical screening, breast awareness and screening, healthy relationships and sexual health. The participants received amazing Dilly Bags with health information brochures on the topics covered by the guest speakers and more.

The Zoom session ran for two hours and was hosted by Karen Bryant, our Senior Aboriginal Liaison Officer.

This initiative was run on behalf of Northern Health Narrun Wilip-giin, Djirra (Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Service) & VAHS (Victorian Aboriginal Health Service). Funding was sourced through the generosity of Tobin Brothers by Northern Health Foundation.

Due to this Women’s Workshop being booked out quickly, Narrun Wilip-giin have planned two more Women’s Health Workshops in March 2021 for our Koori community and will include relevant topics for women aged 45 years and over.