An Aboriginal Health Worker from Kalgoorlie is the latest graduate of an innovative program that teaches how to administer vaccinations to children in a bid to bolster immunisation rates.
The Bega Garnbirringu Health Service health worker graduated last week after taking part in
the two week course at the Nindila Training Centre in Kalgoorlie.
AHCWA launched the training program for Aboriginal Health Workers (AHWs) in partnership with the Communicable Disease Control Directorate (CDCD) at the Department of Health in March 2015.
Since then, 34 Aboriginal Health Workers from across the state have been trained to administer vaccinations and promote immunisation.
AHCWA Chairperson Michelle Nelson-Cox said the program had been initiated to improve immunisation rates amongst Aboriginal children in WA, which were the lowest in the country.
“Until this program was launched, only nurses and doctors were authorised to carry out immunisations,” Ms Nelson-Cox said.
“By expanding the number of Aboriginal Health Workers trained to administer vaccinations to children, we hope to decrease the risk of our young people contracting preventable diseases.
“In addition, the added benefit of having Aboriginal Health Workers trained to conduct vaccinations means that they can relate to Aboriginal children and gain the trust of their parents to help spread message about the importance of immunisation.”
A WA Auditor General report, published in December last year, cited immunisation rates amongst Aboriginal children, infants and toddlers were lower than the national target.
The report suggested the training program had helped contribute to improvements in low immunisation rates among Aboriginal children, with rates for Aboriginal infants in several regions increasing by an average of 8.5% between June 2015 and June 2016.
“We are thrilled that it appears this training program has already contributed to immunisation rates among Aboriginal children increasing significantly in some areas,” Ms Nelson-Cox said.
“We hope that as more Aboriginal Health Workers are trained, the rates will go up even further.
“We have received an overwhelming response from our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, who see the value in their AHWs being trained to administer immunisations,” she said.
Courses are planned for Broome and Carnarvon later this year.