MOU Brings More Support For Indigenous Patients

Chris Giles, CEO at Portland District Health and John Bell, CEO at Dhauwurd-Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Services (DWECH)
Friday, 21 April 2017
A new memorandum of understanding (MOU) will create more support to Aboriginal people to access health services at Portland District Health.

The agreement between Portland District Health (PDH) and Dhauwurd-Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Services Inc (DWECH) aims to improve access, quality and safety of services to Aboriginal people.

It will also lead to increased care coordination between PDH and DWECH and extends on an existing agreement.

Under the new arrangement, Indigenous people will have access to an Aboriginal health worker or support person when they attend the Urgent Care Centre or outpatient services.

The previous arrangement related only to hospital admissions.

The system will be known as Kirtnapi Kutara, which means all-the-time-support in the local Dhauwurd-Wurrung language.

It is a service, if people want it, to have someone to advocate for them or support them when they access PDH's services, CEO Chris Giles said.

DWECH has developed an on-call system which can be activated to support Indigenous patients in a culturally appropriate manner.

The new arrangement was suggested by DWECH CEO John Bell who said it was important for DWECH to partner with the major health organisation in the area.

The MOU strengthens the partnership with information flowing both ways to benefit both organisations, Mr Bell said.

This ensures members of our community who are referred to the hospital are provided the most culturally appropriate service.

Mr Bell said the call-out service was similar to an existing support program at the Portland police station.

Mr Bell added that DWECH was impressed by PDH’s commitment to and understanding of Indigenous health and the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working at PDH.

It's a very important agreement with positive initiatives including the call-out service, training and the commitment which strengthen the relationship between the organisations, he said.

This is a great document but there's already evidence that we are both acting on what is written, he said.

Ms Giles said PDH was working with partner Indigenous organisations in the Grow Healthy Together forum to improve access to health care and improve support when Indigenous people use the service. We want everyone to feel safe when using the health service and this empowers Aboriginal patients to speak up so they are in control and feel comfortable.

Ms Giles said PDH had seen an increase in the number of Indigenous patients. The health service has also increased the number of Indigenous people working in the organisation.

We want to make sure this opens the door to a seamless way to get treatment, she said.

The new MOU will build the capacity of PDH to deliver culturally appropriate services and the capacity of DWECH and the Aboriginal community to work in partnership with PDH.

PDH and DWECH recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is a specialise area and that both organisations need a positive working relationship to achieve the best care and health outcomes.

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