Posted on: 18-08-2017 | Category: General

Having a good idea is one thing, but implementing it and succeeding is another. However, a strategy started more than a decade ago aimed at improving the lives of Aboriginal people in Far West New South Wales has had the winning combination of a good idea and the right people to bring about positive change. 

An evaluation of the strategy by Maari Ma to combat chronic disease, which will be launched today by the Federal Minister for Indigenous Health, shows there has been success. 

Maari Ma CEO, Bob Davis, said Maari Ma was honoured when the Hon. Ken Wyatt AM MP agreed to launch the Chronic Disease Strategy Evaluation Report, called Opening Doors. 

Mr Davis said it was validation of the significance of the Strategy’s achievements since it was first conceived and implemented more than 10 years ago. 

“Back in 2005 Maari Ma’s Board backed a new way of providing primary care services to the Aboriginal people in far west NSW, re-aligning service delivery to prevent the chronic diseases that were cutting Aboriginal lives short, detecting those diseases earlier and managing them better. 

 “That leadership has held this organisation in good stead and this evaluation report presents the fruits of that leadership” he said. 

Mr Davis said the evaluation was a collaboration between Maari Ma and the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin and drew upon hospital data held by NSW Health, clinical indicators from quality improvement processes, program administration data, interviews with 68 key informants, and took more than 12 months to undertake and document. 

“The resulting two volume report documents key achievements during the Chronic Disease Strategy’s implementation, and priorities for further work in the Strategy’s key program areas of Healthy Start (for mothers, babies and children), Keeping Well (for adults), and health service support.  

“The report tracks the evolution of the Strategy from the early days of community engagement and service redesign to the implementation and growth of the Healthy Start and Keeping Well programs. 

“It also tracks the use of quality improvement processes to document changes in clinical outcomes for clients. 

“When you see a graph of potentially preventable hospitalisations for Aboriginal people for chronic conditions trending downwards, you know you are having an impact. 

“While we still have a way to go on smoking and other lifestyle-related problems such as drug and alcohol use, our staff are having conversations with Aboriginal people in the region every day who are keen to improve their health, with Maari Ma’s help and support. 

“This is important work and Maari Ma is in this for the long haul. 

“I am heartened by the growing number of Aboriginal people across the far west who are accessing our services, and who are keen to take steps to maintain and improve their health. 

“ In particular I’d like to note the role of our Indigenous staff in supporting our communities to access services.  

“They are all role models within their families and communities and they have been the backbone of the success of the Maari Ma Chronic Disease Strategy,” Mr Davis said. 

Some highlights from the evaluation include: 

  • More than a 10 fold increase in the number of health checks undertaken from 2011 to 2015
  • Doubling of the number of home medication reviews undertaken from 2012 to 2015
  • Significant rise in the number of booked appointments (versus walk-in appointments) to provide planned chronic disease care and management
  • Steady increase in women presenting for 5 or more antenatal visits since 2007
  • Substantial growth in specialist clinics held in the primary care setting: from less than 100 in 2010 to almost 1000 in 2015, in Broken Hill, Menindee, Wilcannia and Ivanhoe. Visiting specialties include cardiology, nephrology, endocrinology, smoking cessation, echo technician, addiction physician, pain management, physiotherapy, paediatrics, psychiatry, and ear, nose and throat surgery.
  • Child oral health services have seen the percentage of Aboriginal children with decay in baby teeth and permanent teeth decline from 2007 to 2011 in most towns and the average number of decayed, missing and filled baby teeth and permanent teeth decline in most towns.

The evaluation report, Opening Doors, and its companion Appendices, will be available shortly on this website. 


18th August 2017

For further information available for interview

Bob Davis
Maari Ma Chief Executive Officer
08 8082 9888