May 10, 2021

Karen Bryant’s new honour

Our Senior Aboriginal Liaison Officer Karen Bryant has been inducted into the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll.

The honour roll celebrates and recognises the achievements of Aboriginal Victorians, both past and present, who have made a profound contribution to their community and the state.

“I am very happy to be acknowledged in this way. I am feeling very honoured to be among the 12 other inductees and to hear their stories is a beautiful and humbling experience,” Karen said.

Karen has worked at Northern Health for 14 years and says she has seen the organisation and Aboriginal services at Northern Health expand over the years.

“We have two great programs operating. The Koori Maternity Program looks after Aboriginal women and their spouses who are having ‘boorai’s (babies). The program has two midwives and an Aboriginal Health Worker. The program works with Aboriginal women in the antenatal phase, at birth and at post-delivery,” she said.

“The Aboriginal Liaison Officer (ALO) team works with inpatients at the Northern Hospital, Broadmeadows, Craigieburn and Bundoora sites. The ALO role is predominately working with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients coming in and we often work with the spouses of Aboriginal families. We have some great changes evolving all the time and many actions coming from the Northern Health Reconciliation Plan.”

Karen says she is always wanting to improve the education of non-Aboriginal people about culture safety matters and culture awareness, but also educating Aboriginal patients on the importance of the hospital, health services and options on services, clinics and programs within the hospital setting.

“A lot of our people are getting chronic illnesses quite early on and people are getting multiple chronic illnesses in their 40s or 50s. Many of our people die earlier than the broader community so education is key to many things,” she said.

“It’s also about educating the staff on how to engage with Aboriginal people. It’s about making that journey better for them or getting them to understand the journey. The hospital is a safe place and we want to encourage Aboriginal people to attend when needed”.

“We’ve had some great cultural safety exercises happening around the hospital. Northern Health has got Acknowledgement to Country plaques of the traditional owners throughout the hospital and all the other Northern Health sites.

Since starting at Northern Health, Karen has seen a significant improvement in Aboriginal and Torres Islander people accessing the health service with more outpatients appointments booked in and higher attendances.

“We have patients coming from country areas because sometimes they don’t have specialist services or a particular discipline in their area. We are are seeing people from areas like Wallan, Broadford and Sunbury, including people coming from Mildura, Echuca and Shepparton,” Karen said.

Featured image: Karen Bryant