Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia staff this week travelled to the Pilbara as part of a national first project exploring the most significant health issues facing young Aboriginal people in regional WA.
AHCWA staff will host a series of age appropriate workshops with young indigenous people and health workers across the state, including in the Mid-West, Kimberley, Pilbara, Goldfields and South-West before the end of the year.
Results of the workshops will form part of AHCWA’s Aboriginal Youth Health Strategy – a new blueprint that will document the most important health concerns of young people and the availability of local health services.
“We are excited to undertake the first ever WA Aboriginal Youth Health Strategy in Australia and hear directly from young people in WA about the health issues they are most concerned about,” AHCWA Aboriginal youth coordinator Hayley Thompson said.
“Over the years there have been general strategies conducted about youth health in Australia but this is the first time a strategy has been undertaken exclusively for young Aboriginal people in WA.
“We know that mental health, drugs and alcohol are among the most pressing issues facing young indigenous youth today, along with boredom, which can lead to young people engaging in criminal activity and violent behaviours.
“This plan will help us to navigate the most significant health issues facing young Aboriginal people in remote WA, determine how accessible health services are and the best way forward to provide the support they need.”
On Tuesday, the team hosted a workshop at the Warralong community with 17 Warralong Community School students aged between 11 and 18, before meeting with a group of 34 Year 8 and 9 Hedland Senior High School students on Wednesday morning.
On Wednesday afternoon, the team held a workshop at the JD Hardy Youth Centre in South Hedland with 10 young people aged between 12 and 16.
The Pilbara workshops were organised with the support of the Wirraka Maya Health Service.
Youth workers will gauge health-related information as part of the workshop, asking young people between the ages of five and 24 about health issues in their communities, where they would go for help and what the word “healthy” means to them.
“This is about working with children and young people on an age appropriate level to determine the health issues of most concern and ensure they know where to seek help should they need it,” Ms Thompson said.
“Workshops will be presented in a fun, engaging way and be tailored to a variety of literacy levels, locations and interests of the group.
“Through this project, AHCWA hopes to achieve a better sense of the health issues affecting young people in each region and any potential gaps that may need attention.
“We hope that by chatting face-to-face with young people and service providers in each region it will provide richer data and more comprehensive information.”
So far, 134 young Aboriginal people have participated in the state-wide consultation with workshops in Port Hedland, Geraldton, Carnarvon, Broome and Derby.
AHCWA is the peak body for Aboriginal health in WA, with 22 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) currently engaged as members.