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Traditional custodian offers helping hand to hospital through CAC

Published:  10 June 2020

She’s a former police detective with a background in child protection and now heading a legislative compliance team specialising in native title rights, but for Juru woman Peta Ross it was a stint in hospital and a passion for improving First Nation people’s health outcomes that convinced her she had something to offer by joining the Townsville Hospital and Health Service’s (HHS) Consumer Advisory Council (CAC)

“Just over 12 months ago I had some problems standing up and weight bearing and after what felt like a thousand appointments with my GP, I was referred to Townsville University Hospital for further investigation,” Peta said.

“It turned out that I required spinal decompression surgery and the removal of a synovial cyst that was pushing on my spinal cord.

“Obviously it was protracted having to see multiple specialists and during the course of that journey there were some good experiences and some experiences where I felt I could contribute to make the system better.”

Peta said having the opportunity to contribute to the Townsville HHS CAC was meant to be.

“I wasn’t aware that the CAC was specifically seeking a First Nation’s person so it was a stars-aligned-type of situation,” Peta said.

“Starting this journey during National Reconciliation Week is another huge signal about what a great opportunity this is to come together and help each other out.

“I’m a Juru person and the health of our people is very important to me.

“We see our family members passing well before their time or struggling through life with disease.

“I’m very passionate about healthcare for everybody but in particular for our mob.”

Peta said she was looking forward to getting to work.  

“As a traditional custodian there are definite areas that have been identified for improvement as a result of my experiences but I think the general humanitarian qualities are something we really need to push,” Peta said.

“Australia, Townsville, the hospital; it’s a massive melting pot of lots of different cultures and religions so to find those factors that will resonate with everybody will be really important to me.

“I hope that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Advisory Council (ATSICAC) along with myself in this space can contribute to bringing about awareness in cultural sensitivities that need to be put in place.

“This is going to be a very interesting space, a very rewarding space.”

Peta’s career has focussed on legislative compliance, with her current role leading a team at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in traditional owner governance and rights. Her first official meeting will be in August.

The Townsville HHS CAC is a forum of consumer representatives from across the Townsville HHS catchment area, representing diverse communities and perspectives. Along with its sister committee, the ATSICAC, the CAC provides advice to the Townsville Hospital and Health Board, the Health Service Chief Executive (HSCE) and Executive on engaging with consumers to deliver quality health care.

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