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North West HHS launches Health Equity Strategy
North West Hospital and Health Service (HHS) has launched a health equity strategy in partnership with a number of stakeholders to improve health outcomes and ensure life expectancy parity by 2031 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
As part of the health equity reform process, the strategy was co-designed by a range of stakeholders and overseen and provided guidance by a governance collaborative that included Gidgee Healing, Western Queensland Primary Health Network, Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council, Yellagundgimarra Doomadgee Health Council, Mornington Island Health Council and a community representative.
Further developmental stakeholders included: traditional owner groups, Elders, Shire Councils, Land Councils, consumers, family and carers, Royal Flying Doctor Service, North West Remote Health, Murtupuni Centre for Rural and Remote Health, aged care providers, disability support providers, youth services, and other government departments.
Over the next three years, the strategy will focus on embedding the voices of the region’s First Nations people into the design, development and delivery of health services, to ensure the creation of environments and services that First Nations people feel safe and comfortable to access.
An implementation plan detailing specific and measurable targets to achieve the 2031 goals will be released early next year, while the strategy itself has been formulated after 12 months of engagement and consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community groups throughout the North West health service region.
North West HHS Chief Executive Craig Carey said barriers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equity will require constant vigilance and long term vision, now ensured with the newly developed strategy and subsequent implementation plan.
“The health equity strategy recognises the underlying determinants that support or hinder good health and identifies those determinants of health inequity that must be addressed so that the community can experience good health and wellbeing,” Mr Carey said.
“No single sector or organisation alone can address the broad range of social, economic and environmental determinants of health inequity, highlighting the need for partnerships of all kinds to bring about real change. We commit the health service to reform and a range of strong partnerships in and beyond the health sector that are working to influence the determinants of health inequities”.
North West HHS Executive Director Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Christine Mann said the engagement exercise that spanned over twelve months has resulted in co-ownership of the strategy between the health service and local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across North West and the Lower Gulf region and will ensure that the needs of the region is met.
“I would like to thank the many staff, community Elders, partner organisations and community for helping to develop this plan and making sure it talks to the most important issues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders people in our communities,” Ms Mann said.
“Some people face greater barriers than others to enjoying a healthy life, and North West is putting a focus on health equity throughout our work. It’s about levelling the field between people who can more easily access the drivers of good health and those who face barriers to those drivers and addressing the persistent, long term health inequities many people continuously face. We want to achieve the highest level of health for everyone and without prejudice.”
The North West HHS Health Equity strategy is available to view online here.
North West HHS CE Craig Carey, North West HHS Board Chair Cheryl Vardon, North West HHS Executive Director Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Christine Mann, Chief Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Officer and Deputy Director-General Haylene Grogan.