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Caring for country as primary health care (EPOSTER: 5mins)

Presentation Description

Background: The wellbeing of Aboriginal Australians is enhanced by stronger relationships with Country and greater involvement in cultural practices, and Aboriginal people in more remote regions have greater access to their Country and higher levels of wellbeing. However, this does not translate into improved health outcomes, and Aboriginal Australians in more remote regions suffer greater morbidity and mortality than Aboriginal people in non-remote areas, and other Australians. The Interplay research project explored how Aboriginal Australians in remote regions experience high levels of wellbeing despite poor health statistics, and how services could more effectively enhance health and wellbeing.

Method: We worked with Aboriginal Australians in remote regions to develop a wellbeing framework. This comprised interplaying government priorities of education, employment and health, and community priorities of culture and empowerment. To explore these priorities Aboriginal community researchers recruited participants from diverse Aboriginal organizations, including art, business development, education, employment, health and municipal services. Fourteen focus groups and seven interviews, involving 75 Aboriginal and ten non-Indigenous service providers and users were conducted, then analyzed through themes of the wellbeing framework.

Results: Research participants highlighted Aboriginal land management as a source of wellbeing, through empowerment and strengthened identity, access to traditional foods, enjoyable physical activity, and escape from communities where alcohol is problematic. Aboriginal land management programs work across different sectors and provide comprehensive primary health care.

Discussion:
Developing primary health care to reflect distinctive health needs of Aboriginal Australians will enhance their health and wellbeing, which includes their communities and Country. Aboriginal land management consolidates aspects of comprehensive primary health care, providing both clinical benefits and wellbeing, and can provide a focus for service collaboration.

Implications for practice:
Radically different service provision, focusing on the needs of Aboriginal communities would bring together employment, education and health services in Caring for country and enhance wellbeing.

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