First Nations peoples are significantly more likely to experience poorer health and wellbeing outcomes than non-Indigenous populations. Brisbane South PHN is committed to improving the health of our First Nations communities by ensuring accessible, high-quality, culturally sensitive health care services are provided in our region.
Of specific concern in our region is the disproportionate impact of mental ill-health, suicide, and substance misuse on First Nations peoples. These impacts can be compounded by experiences of intergenerational trauma, economic disadvantage, homelessness and family violence. Collaborative action between organisations, First Nations Elders and the community across health and other social support services is required to build protective factors for mental health and substance misuse.
The two health priorities for our region immediately relevant to providing better health outcomes for First Nations peoples and which have informed our decision-making and prioritisation of local and regional projects to support this community are:
- improving access to, and navigation of, the health system
- improving health literacy.
Celebrating First Nations health care workers
Health care services
Brisbane South PHN commissions a range of free health care services for First Nations people in our region through the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) and Gallang Place Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Corporation. Both organisations offer a vast array of health care services to support the physical, mental and emotional and holistic wellbeing of our indigenous communities, in addition to the culturally sensitive health services available in our region.
Institute for Urban Indigenous Health
The Insititute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) operates through a partnership of community service providers, including the Brisbane-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service and Capalaba-based Yulu-Burri-Ba. IUIH provides direct clinical and allied health services and an extensive range of health support services, including the commissioned health service, Integrated Team Care.
Gallang Place Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Corporation
Gallang Place is a community-operated, not-for-profit organisation offering a broad range of health care services, as well as extensive advocacy and general support.
Integrated Team Care
The IUIH Integrated Team Care (ITC) is provided by teams of health care professionals across the Brisbane South PHN region and delivers programs for patients and practices.
Integrated Team Care for patients
The ITC team delivers patient-focused programs that integrate care services for First Nations people with chronic health conditions who require coordinated, multi-disciplinary care. The service assists patients, their family and referring health care provides to link up the patient’s care no matter where it’s provided.
In addition to coordinating patient services, the IUIH ITC team assists patients by supporting them to access primary health care, including:
- accessing culturally appropriate mainstream services and required medical aids
- arranging appointments and providing transport
- ensuring the patient’s health care team undertakes regular reviews.
Integrated Team Care for practices
Cultural awareness training is fundamental to ensuring that First Nations peoples can feel culturally safe when receiving mainstream primary health care and is delivered to general practices and health care providers through the ITC program.
In addition to cultural awareness training, which is provided to practice staff over six hours, the ITC program also provides practices assistance with developing appropriate resources, tools and templates to support indigenous accessibility to the service.
Mental health, suicide prevention, alcohol and other drugs treatment
IUIH and Gallang Place have been engaged by Brisbane South PHN to provide free mental health, alcohol and other drug treatment services and suicide prevention programs to our local First Nations population.
Engaging these organisations to provide these specific health care services in our region aligns with our 2019-2022 Mental Health, Suicide Prevention, and Alcohol and Other Drug Strategy which was developed following a thorough analysis of information obtained during our previous Needs Assessment. In addition to acknowledging increasing rates of suicide nationally and that this is not a localised problem, our Needs Assessment indicated that in our region First Nations peoples experienced suicide at a rate of approximately two times that of the non-indigenous population. Ensuring there are culturally appropriate services to support people is essential in addressing this major regional health issue.
Suicide prevention program
Gift of Gallang is a primary school-based wellbeing program for First Nations children. The program is currently being delivered in Inala by Inala Wangarra Inc and will soon be extended to parts of Logan and Beaudesert.
Developed by the Inala community, the Gift of Gallang is a prevention program that fosters resilience and reduces the risk of youth suicide. Gift of Gallang takes a strengths-based approach to healing mind, body and spirit.
The 11 week program covers topics embedded in First Nations cultures and community protocols to build self-discovery, mindfulness, healing, connectedness, identity, spirituality, and self-determination. Gift of Gallang aims to foster a belief within children that they matter – to themselves, to others and to their community.
Culturally sensitive services
Across Brisbane South PHN there are eight Community Controlled Health Services and over 40 mainstream general practices providing culturally sensitive health services.
Staff at the mainstream general practices providing indigenous health services in a culturally appropriate way have undergone cultural awareness training through the Brisbane South PHN commissioned Integrated Team Care program. These general practices have culturally appropriate communication material, artwork and partnerships in place with First Nations organisations to ensure indigenous patients are comfortable accessing their services.
Reconciliation Action Plan
We recognise the importance of working closely with First Nations communities to help close the gap between their health care needs and accessing suitable health services.
As an organisation, we are committed to supporting the national reconciliation movement and developed a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) that was approved by Reconciliation Australia in August 2018. We are consistently working to improve health outcomes for First Nations peoples in our community and are currently working with the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health to ensure we implement our RAP effectively.