Aboriginal health program aims to close the gap

A health program set to close the gap in the life expectancy between indigenous people and others has met with some success, says Aboriginal health manager at WentWest, Jamie Matthews.

He said in the past year, “Close The Gap’’ had 80 per cent of its new patients moving to self-management after working with Aboriginal outreach workers.

‘‘About 943 care co-ordination and supplementary services have been provided to Aboriginal patients from July  to December 2013,’’ he said.

A Close the Gap family fun day was held at Doonside Community Health Centre on Birdwood Avenue last Thursday.

‘‘In addition to this, only 0.5 per cent of all Close The Gap patients were represented in hospital emergency departments.

‘‘The program adopts a holistic approach to patient care, ensuring that not only health, but other lifestyle factors impacting upon the patient, also improve.’’

The Ngallu Wal Aboriginal Child and Family Centre were involved in the event to get more indigenous people to attend.

The local health district provided a range of health services, including the Mootang Tarimi (meaning “Living Longer”) mobile van, early parenting support, and the BCI Sunflower Clinic BreastScreen mobile van.

Aboriginal health education officer Vickie Mason said the aim was to help people make positive lifestyle changes and improve their health.

“Advice on topics include blood pressure, height, weight and waist measurement checks, testing your lung capacity on the smokealyser, free flu shots and risk drinking assessments.’’

Students from Doonside Public School performed traditional Aboriginal, Pacific Island and Indian dancing with Tony Ryan playing the didgeridoo.

Mum Jayde Lyons, 24, who was accompanied by her daughter, Jakoda and her partner Charlie Simpson, 26, said the advice given by health experts would help them live a healthier life.

‘‘I found all our required health advice under one tent and my daughter can enjoy some fun time,’’ she said.

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