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Strategy looks at big picture to Close the Gap

Published:  20 December 2021

Townsville Hospital and Health Service has begun consultation on a historic document to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in North Queensland.

The Health Equity Strategy is enshrined in law and aims to Close the Gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people and non-Indigenous people by 2031.

Townsville Hospital and Health Board Chair Tony Mooney said despite being nine per cent of the population, First Nations people contributed more than 30 per cent of total hospital activity.

“This population is more likely to have multiple illnesses, low birthweight babies, poor mental health, diabetes and renal failure and are less likely to be immunised,” he said.

“Sadly, by the time they come to our hospital they are often seriously unwell or have an illness that can’t be cured, only managed.”

Chief Executive of Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service Dr Stephen Hagan said the key point of difference with this strategy was that it would be codesigned with the community, health professionals and other key stakeholders.

“This strategy will only succeed if we harness the expertise and wisdom of our local community through meaningful engagement and consultation,” he said.

Chief Executive Officer of Palm Island Community Company Rachel Atkinson said having worked in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled health sector for 30 years she had seen the barriers faced by Indigenous people.

“Health equity serves to create ways to actively help, support and empower our people to receive the care, services, jobs and educational opportunities they need to thrive as individuals,” she said.

Executive director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health with the THHS Wendy Ah Chin said she urged the community to get involved in the development of the strategy.

“We want to hear from teachers, employers, nurses, housing providers as well as members of our community,” she said.

“The more feedback we get from a variety of areas that better picture we’ll have in how we can reshape and improve the services we offer.

Ms Ah Chin said people could get involved by completing the Health Equity Strategy survey here:

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