This research project is part of a larger international project, the Revitalising Health For All project funded by the Teasdale-Corti Global Health Research Partnership Program. The CRC for Aboriginal Health is coordinating and co-funding the Australian arm of this study, which aims to document and highlight the role of comprehensive primary health care (CPHC) in the 21st century.

The CRC for Aboriginal Health has helped establish a regional steering committee to oversee the Australian research, which looks at the significant role that Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services play both in improving health outcomes and in addressing the social determinants of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. The regional committee has invited three Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to participate in the research, and this project looks specifically at the Urapuntja Health Service’s work in the central Australian community of Utopia.

The other two sites were the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress site and Melbourne site.

This project aimed to document the history of the Urapuntja Health Service (UHS), its role in delivering primary health care services, and the contribution it makes to the social and physical health and wellbeing of the people of Utopia community. The aims in more detail were to:

  • Document the history and development of the UHS, with a view to understanding the changes in practice and models of care that have been developed in response to the needs of the community.
  • Understand the critical role of the UHS board and community in setting the direction and priorities for the health service, while maintaining support for the maintenance of traditional practice as a mechanism to maintain health.
  • Consider the implications and learning from the UHS models for other Indigenous communities.

The methods used in this project were be predominantly qualitative (interviewing) and a review of documents associated with the service. Up to eight community members (four men, four women) will be trained in video camera operation to enable them to conduct the interviews. UHS staff will also document their own daily activities over a period of several weeks to identify what actions are currently undertaken and what primary health care activities are being missed.

It was anticipated that the project would lead to:

  • A strengthening of UHS’s work in CPHC practice and management.
  • A clearer understanding of UHS’s role in improving health.
  • An understanding of the model of service development and delivery.
  • Improved research literacy among staff and community members.
  • An understanding of a model of CPHC that integrates traditional business and practice and Western constructs of health.
  • Recognition of the value and strength of community-led service design and development.
  • A better understanding of the social influences on Aboriginal health.
  • Detailed documentation of the UHS care model and its relationship with health outcomes.
  • A context-specific contribution to the international research project ‘Revitalising Health for All: Learning from Comprehensive Primary Health Care Experiences’.
  • Further opportunities for the video camera trainees to broaden their experience.

The project started in March 2009 and was due for completion in December 2009.

Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land across Australia and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.