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Indigenous healthcare commitment wins award

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Eastern Health’s commitment to Indigenous health has been acknowledged at the 2018 Victorian Public Healthcare Awards.

The team won the Improving Indigenous Health category, and were acknowledged for improving access to recovery oriented Adult Mental Health Services for the Aboriginal community in the east.

Among its key work has been at Maroondah Prevention and Recovery Care (PARC), where the team has worked hard to enhance services and provide a better environment to meet the needs of the local Aboriginal community.

Maroondah PARC, which Eastern Health manages in partnership with Mind Australia, provides a safe and supportive environment for people who do not need hospital care to treat their mental ill-health, but do require temporary support.

Maroondah PARC provides its residents with an opportunity to participate in a community based program. It offers everything from how to better manage illness and regain self-esteem, life skills, and the opportunity to participate in community groups and activities.

In recent years, there has been a renewed effort to engage with the local Indigenous community with an Aboriginal Clinical Engagement Project for Maroondah Mental Health Services.

Eastern Health Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer Jo Voce said the team were humbled to receive such a prestigious award.

“Enhancing mental health care for the local Aboriginal community has been a passion for many people on the team. It is wonderful that the hard work of so many people at Eastern Health has been recognised with this award.”

The installation of Aboriginal specific information boards, and feature walls painted by volunteer Eddie Thomson so they are in-line with Aboriginal culture, are among the positive changes which have been made at Maroondah PARC.

In addition, a special event was held at Maroondah PARC earlier this year to highlight the importance of cultural inclusiveness as a way to provide better mental health care to local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

It included a Welcome to Country from senior Wurundjeri elder Aunty Joy, a smoking ceremony, and an opportunity to view Aboriginal artwork which has been specifically created for the service. The name of a room at Maroondah PARC, which celebrates the connection between Aboriginal culture and healthcare, was also revealed, and is now known as Bik-Jornung, meaning “a pleasant place”.

Eastern Health Aboriginal Engagement Clinician Kate Locastro said while there was still a lot of hard work to do to enhance Aboriginal healthcare, the work done at Maroondah PARC was evidence of some encouraging signs.

“We look forward to working with the Aboriginal community in the region on how we can continue to enhance mental health care in the east.”