Mater Mothers is taking the first steps to bridge health divide

Mater Mothers is taking the first steps to bridge health divide

Mater’s award-winning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Liaison team is leading Mater Mothers' teams right across Queensland in working together to close the gap in health outcomes and life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people—from birth.

To mark this year’s Close the Gap day, Mater is excited to stand with Australians from every corner of the country, in schools, businesses and community groups, to show commitment to providing safe and effective healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within communities across Queensland.

With an aspiration to lead the delivery of culturally safe healthcare, Mater Mothers' is beginning by working to create culturally appropriate processes, working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and families to see a genuine connection between patient needs and their care delivery.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Liaison Officer at Mater, Gwen Ibarra supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients every day to ensure they receive culturally appropriate care in a safe, supportive environment.

Gwen said tertiary hospital-style healthcare can be confronting for all, but particularly for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“Part of the reason that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience higher rates of disease and lower life expectancy is because many leave hospital before they are well, often leading to further deterioration of their health,” she said.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience higher rates of preventable chronic disease such as diabetes, cardiac disease and renal failure compared with other Australians and are 2.6 times more likely to be admitted to hospital.

“If we focus on creating more culturally safe practises and process in a hospital environment, with genuine input from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within our communities, we are confident this statistic can change,” Ms Ibarra added.

“For this year’s Close the Gap day, in line with the theme—Our Health, Our Voice, Our Choice— we are striving to see greater awareness with healthcare staff across Queensland, so that here at Mater we can help our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples feel more comfortable and confident as they progress through their pregnancy, birth and postnatal care.”

“We are encouraging all people across Mater to sign the national pledge and play their part in closing the gap.”

As part of the longer-term strategy to come off the back of Close the Gap Day, Mater is also in the process of developing its very first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) to identify and strengthen opportunities to enhance the health organisation’s relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The RAP will be guided by Mater’s newly-appointed Reconciliation Action Plan Project Manager, Tracy McCarthy, a Kuku Yalanji woman from Far North Queensland with family connections at Wujal Wujal in the Daintree.

Tracy said Mater’s RAP will provide an integral first step in changing some of the shocking statistics of inequality between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their health, comparative to non-Indigenous Australians.

“We know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living, on average, 10-11 years less than non-Indigenous Australians, which is just one of the reasons as to why Closing the Gap needs to be everyone’s business,” Tracy explained.

“It is an issue in which every person can play a role and this year, we are looking inside to see a call for all Mater staff to take their first step on Thursday March 18 and sign the pledge.”

“Along with this, our RAP will support all Mater services right across Queensland by putting in place business standards around the concepts of Respect, Relationship and Opportunity, to overcome the barrier and bridge the gap.”

“As a group we are excited to have robust, honest conversations about moving forward to have the very best, most cohesive cultural protocols to suit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and are incredibly confident about our future vision coming to light.”

Be sure to join Mater along with over 220,000 other Australians this by signing the pledge this Close the Gap Day. 

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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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