INDIGENOUS health on the Northern Rivers will receive a $9.1 million investment in community driven programs to tackle significant health challenges including ice and drug addiction, mental conditions, suicide and chronic disease.
On Monday Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt visited Ballina, Lismore and Casino to talk with providers of innovative services in the areas of combating ice dependence, mental health conditions, suicide prevention and chronic disease
He said the funding, commissioned through the North Coast Primary Health Network (PHN), comprised $5.029 million for integrated team care, $2.095 million for drug and alcohol treatment services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and $2.006 million for indigenous mental health flexible funding.
Mr Wyatt said the funding supported community driven projects, including mental health, alcohol and other drug services, where local Aboriginal people previously experienced challenges accessing support.
"This includes early intervention trial programs for people with co-existing drug and alcohol issues to encourage them to seek help early and remain connected with support," he said.
"New residential detox services allow Aboriginal men to reconnect with their history, culture and community, and a new health partnership is seeing Aboriginal people trained to become community leaders in suicide prevention."
Mr Wyatt said collaborative, community based approaches were the key to delivering health services that would help close the gap in local Indigenous health.
"There is a strong focus on early intervention in the fight against chronic disease, through programs that support Aboriginal people to attend medical appointments and ensure they receive coordinated and multidisciplinary care," he said.
"Partnerships are also being funded to help identify the early signs of kidney disease which will improve the quality of life of Aboriginal people and reduce the need for dialysis treatment."
Widespread cultural awareness training of health staff will also help clinicians to better understand how they can support the health needs of their Aboriginal patients when they attend medical clinics, which in turn may encourage people to seek treatment early.
"We know that working with both individuals and Aboriginal Medical Services has been an important part of this commissioning process, and has shaped the prioritisation, planning and evaluation of these health services," Mr Wyatt said.
"We also need to consider how other factors affect health outcomes, such as family pressures, culture, employment, education and housing (and) recognising the impact of these factors will help inform a preventive, whole-of-life approach to Indigenous health."
Key North Coast PHN Indigenous investments:
Integrated Team Care: $5.029 million (2016-18) to improve access to coordinated care for chronic conditions and culturally appropriate care.
Drug and Alcohol Treatment Services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders: $2.095 million (2016-19) to increase capacity of the drug and alcohol treatment sector though improved regional coordination and by commissioning additional drug and alcohol treatment services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Indigenous Mental Health Flexible Funding: $2.006 million (2016-18) to improve access to integrated, culturally appropriate and safe mental health services that holistically meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
North Coast PHN Indigenous projects also include:
headspace Grafton: Funding for establishment and service delivery for new headspace facility;
After Hours Services: To reduce avoidable hospitalisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by supporting carers of high-risk groups in providing home care after hours; and
Aged Care Services: Includes a Residential Care Improvement Program to improve referral processes and relationships between general practice and aged care facilities. Targeted support for Aboriginal Medical Services in the Tweed, Richmond and Clarence Valley regions to support patients at risk in winter, and preparation of a dementia services action plan and provision of dementia services information to local people.