Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM

Ice dependency, mental health conditions, suicide prevention and chronic disease are among the targets of $9.1 million federal government funding boost aimed at improving Indigenous health across the NSW North Coast.

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM, visited Ballina, Lismore and Casino on 6 November to talk with providers of innovative services in these areas, commissioned through the North Coast Primary Health Network (PHN).

“The funding supports community driven projects, including mental health, alcohol and other drug services, where local Aboriginal people previously experienced challenges accessing support,” Minister Wyatt said.

“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.

“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.”

Minister Wyatt said collaborative, community based approaches were the key to delivering health services that would help close the gap in local Indigenous health.

The region has an average Aboriginal population of 4.5%, higher than many other areas of Australia, and the funding, distributed through the PHN, will enable 14 different service providers to deliver a range of services and programs.

Mr Wyatt praised the work being done by Aboriginal Medical Services.

“The nine Aboriginal Medical Services in the region, such as Bulgarr Ngaru, Jullums and Bullinah are doing some outstanding work to support their patients.

“This includes ensuring that community members with chronic disease get to see the health practitioners they need to, are provided with specialised medical aids where necessary and are assisted with transport to attend medical appointments.

“The tremendous work being done by the Aboriginal Community Controlled organisations such as Durri and Rekindling the Spirit, and the other organisations who have received funding, will go a long way to improving health and wellbeing,” he said.

Key North Coast PHN Indigenous investments:

  1. Integrated Team Care: $5.029 million (2016-18) to improve access to coordinated care for chronic conditions and culturally appropriate care.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  • 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.