CLOSE THE GAP DAY 2017
Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation will be marking National Close the Gap Day tomorrow ( Thursday 16th March ) by bringing attention to the problem of low life expectancy among Indigenous people and raising awareness of programs aiming to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
Chief Executive Officer, Bob Davis, said life expectancy is a human rights issue not just a health issue and poverty, education and employment levels all have a long lasting impact on the health of Indigenous communities.
“We have been integrating a number of the Close the Gap indicators into our programs over many years such as embedding literacy into our Early Years program, employing and training more Aboriginal staff, and managing chronic disease better through good comprehensive primary health care services and programs.
“In the past 12 months, at the direction from the Board, we have stepped up our prevention and early intervention work with young people with our Youth Health Program and have been working closely with Maari Ma Community Paediatrician, Dr Garth Alperstein, to develop it.
“For the past year we’ve been running Youth Health Clinics which are proving to be very popular and are a key feature of the Program.
“They are held daily from Monday to Friday targeting young Aboriginal people aged nine to 18 years and are delivered at Maari Ma’s Primary Health Care Service by a team comprising a doctor, Aboriginal youth worker and nurse.
“They have an early intervention focus addressing physical, emotional and social wellbeing issues and we’re finding that the clinics are really being embraced by the kids.
“We’ve completed 300 ATSI Health Checks which we believe also demonstrates that young people are actively engaging in their health and that they want good health” he said.
Mr Davis said Dr Alperstein is in Broken Hill this week to work with the Youth Health Program team to implement a new assessment tool looking at social and health issues specific to adolescents.
“The tool is used by adolescents in the clinic setting to reflect on their health status and behaviours, and share their reflections with the health team in a personalised and safe way.
“It’s another step in our work with young people – the next generation - and another step we hope towards closing the gap” Mr Davis said.
As part of Close the Gap Day events, Maari Ma will be conducting a social media campaign encouraging young mums and women planning to get pregnant to go smoke free.
There will also be resources and information about Maari Ma’s different programs for community members in the waiting room at the Primary Health Care Service, and at Maari Ma’s weekly Playgroup held on Friday Close the Gap day events will be integrated into the program.
15th March 2017
Available for interview
Dr Garth Alperstein
Please contact Philippa Quinn by return email or on 0409 929 502 to arrange an interview.