Oncologist Dr. Belinda Yeoh and a patient

Departments

Austin makes its commitment to reconciliation

31 May 2019

Austin Health is celebrating the release its first Reconciliation Action Plan in a step that formalises its commitment to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Austin Health CEO, Sue Shilbury, said the Plan outlines a clear set of actions that Austin Health will implement over the next 12 months to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal people.

"We have a goal of being a leader in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare," Ms Shilbury said.

"Our first Reconciliation Action Plan provides a list of tangible things we will do to move us towards this goal such as observing cultural protocols to make Traditional Owners feel more welcome, rolling out culture awareness and safety training for our staff, and providing further employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

"We know how important relationships are to building trust within Aboriginal communities about the services we offer. We will continue to develop relationship with key members of these communities and Aboriginal organisations and make sure they have opportunities to influence the way our care is delivered to patients.

"Working more closely with Aboriginal people will lead to better health outcomes and this Plan builds on a number of our current initiatives including our Aboriginal Employment Plan, the Ngarra Jarra Aboriginal Health Program which supports patients coming to Austin Health and our Closing the Gap Committee that looks at how we can help bridge the gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

"Austin Health's first Reconciliation Action Plan has been developed through consultation with a range of people including Aboriginal community members, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal staff and other organisations.

"I thank everyone for their hard work and commitment to developing this Plan and look forward to seeing it being implemented," she said.

Aboriginal patient, Julie Peers, is the patron of Austin Health's Closing the Gap Committee and shared her story in the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). Julie has been an Austin Health patient since 2004 and says social work staff saved her life by supporting her through the liver transplant process.

"Many Aboriginal people have had traumatic experiences and have trouble trusting institutions or doctors," Julie says.

"I hope the Reconciliation Action Plan helps to give non- Aboriginal people a greater understanding of how a traumatic past has impacted on the lives of Aboriginal patients.

"Once someone identifies as Aboriginal, you have to be very deliberate in making sure they feel safe and don't feel shame.

"I'm invested in this RAP as the Austin has given me a second chance at life. I want the community to know that Austin Health is a safe place," she said.