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What's next for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children after a burn injury? What are the barriers to appropriate care?

Master thesis by Julieann Coombes – The University of Sydney


There is significant overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with burn-related injury. However, there is little research exploring burn victims access to appropriate health care and their quality of life after they return to their homes, families and communities post-burn. Julieann's research is part of a larger prospective study exploring burn care in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Julieann used semi–structured interviews to conduct qualitative research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children under 16 years of age, and their families, who present to a burns unit. The interviews with burn victims map out participants’ pathways to accessing services to gain information to better understanding how a child with a serious burn and their family interact and experience the journey to recovery. The Aboriginal Interpreter Service was present during discussions with the participants whose first language is not English. As an Aboriginal researcher, Julieann used Aboriginal ontology as her framework, this applies a holistic framework based on interconnectedness, person-centred care, and Aboriginal ways of knowing. This research aimed to generate rich data to assess the impact of burns care on the quality of a victim's, and his or her family's, life. It also helped understand the barriers to health care once a child is back in community and explore the support systems Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have or need to ensure better health outcomes and recovery and continuous health and wellbeing.


Julieann has lived and worked on the New South Wales Central Coast for more than 25 years and identifies as a Gamilaraay woman from Walgett. She is a registered nursed with extensive involvement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and was the first practice nurse and coordinator at the Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Centre in Wyong. Julieann joined the George Institute as an Aboriginal Research Officer in the Injury Division and worked on the Healthy Ageing project that looks at the impact of falls on older Aboriginal people.

Julieann has a special interest in cultural awareness, equity, and education. She has taught Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in secondary and tertiary institutions and has represented Aboriginal nurses at the national level.

Julieann is very active in local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative groups including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Catholic Ministry of the Broken Bay Diocese, where she serves as Chairperson, the Central Coast Indigenous Responsible Gambling Group, Northern Sydney Women in Leadership Advisory Committee, Central Coast Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, and was the Aboriginal member for FaHCSIA Human Research Ethics National Committee.

Created: 30 June 2015 - Updated: 20 September 2018