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The Symposium was held on 19 November 2015, National Library of Australia, Canberra.
A panel of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experts discussed what success looks like when the community drives the research.
Mr Leslie Baird, Wontulp Bi-Buya College, Cairns, spoke about the Family Wellbeing Program (FWB). FWB is an effective social and emotional wellbeing program originally developed and delivered by and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The central objective of FWB is to develop people’s skills and capacity to move from a position of disempowerment to empowerment, to take control and change their lives. FWB was originally developed in 1993 by the Aboriginal Employment Development Branch of the South Australian Department of Education, Training and Employment. Over the last 21 years, the program has continued and spread with little formal support and is now nationally active across most states and territories, along with some international uptake.
Mr Cleveland Fagan, Apunipima Cape York Health Council, Cairns, spoke about the Funding, Accountability and Results (FAR) project. The FAR project was an extended observational study of reforms in the Northern Territory and Cape York, Queensland, that aimed to transfer primary health care services to regional Aboriginal community controlled health services (ACCHOs), in a partnership approach between the sector and federal and jurisdictional health departments. Published under the title, The Road is Made by Walking: Towards a better primary health care system for Australia’s First Peoples, the project conclusions call for a resetting of the relationship between the sector and government, so that it works well to meet the needs of both funders and ACCHOs, and most importantly to enable universal access to comprehensive primary health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Professor Judith, Flinders University, Adelaide, spoke about the Managing Two Worlds Together Stage 3: Improving Aboriginal Patient Journeys project. Health care is delivered in specialised segments, but mostly succeeds or fails as a package. Tracking patients’ experience through the system is an effective way to evaluate how and why the package works – or doesn’t. The Managing Two Worlds Together project investigated what works well and what needs improvement in the health system for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who travel for hospital and specialist care from rural and remote areas of South Australia and the Northern Territory to city hospitals. The project highlighted the critical segments and gaps and produced practical tools that can be used by health professionals, patients and their families to identify what support is needed, and how coordination, communication, collaboration and cultural safety can be improved.
Ms Joy Savage acted as rapporteur, summarised and responded to the presentations, and Ms Pat Anderson AO as well as CEO Mr Romlie Mokak addressed participants.