Closing the Gap

Thursday, 27 February 2014
Portland District Health has taken an important step forward in its relationship with local Indigenous communities with the signing of a `Close the Gap’ statement of intent.

The statement was confirmed at a special function at PDH on February 25 involving health service leaders, representatives of local Indigenous groups and Department of Health officials.

The statement aims to bridge the gap between the health outcomes of Indigenous and non-indigenous people and raise the health status and life expectancy of Aboriginal people.

It commits PDH to developing a comprehensive long-term plan to achieve equality in health status and life expectancy for Indigenous people.

CEO Chris Giles said the launch of the statement was a significant event for PDH.

We are already moving along the pathway to making sure Indigenous people feel safe and comfortable and receive a range of services and good care to meet their needs, Chris said.

This statement of intent will bring this commitment to every facet of our operations and ensure it is a core part of our business. We will work with staff at all levels to help them to understand the culture and needs of the Indigenous population.

PDH has already made significant headway in connecting with local Indigenous communities, including active participation in the Closing the Gap committee, recognition of the traditional owners of the land and flying the Aboriginal flag alongside the Australian flag outside the hospital.

We will continue to work hard to strengthen existing partnerships and we will also work independently to ensure we close the gap,Chris said.

Manager of the Aboriginal Health Program for the Department of Health, Lorraine Parsons, said signing the statement of intent was an auspicious occasion for the region.

She said the Improving Care for Aboriginal Patients program aimed to increase access by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to health services, support health services to provide culturally sensitive care, and recognise that high quality and culturally sensitive health care for Indigenous patients is everyone's responsibility.

Engagement with Aboriginal commuities, developing a culturally aware workforce  and providing sensitive service delivery are key elements for achieving these goals.

PDH Board of Management President Mike Noske encouraged local Indigenous people to tell the health service if it didn't meet their expectations.

We are doing our best to close the gap but understand there is more to do,he said.

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