Aboriginal Health Sector Holds Statewide Conference

Over 150 delegates from around the state attended a conference in Perth this week to address issues in the Aboriginal health sector.

The conference, hosted by the Aboriginal Health Council of WA, attracted delegates from AHCWA’s 22 member services, relevant government departments and other health focused non-government organisations.

The conference held small group workshops on topics affecting the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people in WA.

Topics included the health effects of drugs and alcohol, sexual health, suicide prevention, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and mental health.

“These topics were chosen by the Aboriginal Medical Services around the state, and were identified as areas of particular concern for Aboriginal people and their communities,” said AHCWA Chairperson Michelle Nelson-Cox.

“Each of the workshops came up with at least one recommendation on how to solve the issues that were discussed.

“It was really important that we didn’t just identify problems, but that we came up with workable solutions that were agreed upon by our members.”

The conference also hosted a youth forum facilitated by AHCWA’s Youth Coordinator and involved Aboriginal young people from across WA, which identified the key health issues affecting them.

Ms Nelson-Cox said it was very important for Aboriginal people to identify culturally appropriate solutions.

“Almost all of the workshop facilitators were Aboriginal people, so this was about Aboriginal people coming up with solutions that affect the health of Aboriginal people,” she said.

“We strongly believe that Aboriginal Medical Services around the state are the best placed to understand and treat the complex health issues of Aboriginal people.

“This conference gave them the chance to not only consult with each other, but develop collaborative solutions that we believe will lead to meaningful change.”

The conference also heard presentations from the Director General of Health, the First Assistant Secretary in the federal Department of Health and the state Minister for Mental Health and Child Protection.

The recommendations from the 12 workshops will be collated into a report, which will be presented to both the State and Federal governments to form a vital evidence base for future advocacy.

The conference was held in Perth on Wednesday 16th and Thursday 17th March.

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