Institute takes a grass roots approach to address the First Nations health gap

15 NOVEMBER 2022

Institute takes a grass roots approach to address the First Nations health gap

The Charles Sturt University Rural Health and Medical Research Institute (the Institute) has presented alarming statistics on health inequalities across five NSW Central West communities.

  • The Charles Sturt University Rural Health and Medical Research Institute (the Institute) has presented alarming statistics on health inequalities across five NSW Central West communities
  • The workshop signals the first step of a partnership with Aboriginal Medical Services within the communities of Orange, Dubbo, Gilgandra, Coonamble, and Wellington
  • Data was presented during the full-day planning workshop at the Institute based at Charles Sturt University in Orange

The Rural Health and Medical Research Institute (the Institute) held a full-day planning workshop on Tuesday 15 November to present community health profiles compiled from public data sources across five communities within the Central West.

The workshop aimed to shine the light on health disparities between First Nations and non-First Nations people, along with the rate of disease and chronic health conditions experienced by people within the communities of Orange, Dubbo, Gilgandra, Coonamble, and Wellington.

Executive Director of the Institute Professor Allen Ross and his team visited these regions to consult with local people on the areas of greatest need when it comes to tackling chronic health conditions within First Nations communities.

Professor Ross said the Institute’s approach was to remain open to the health needs of the community including their social determinants of health.

“The Institute is applying a fresh approach to examine and address the health gap between First Nations peoples and the greater Australian population. Partnering with the Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs) at the onset will make this possible,” Professor Ross said.

“Our researchers bring extensive experience from all over the world, yet we are working with the communities with no pre-determined agenda, and instead partnering with them via a grassroots approach to develop strategies that target their specific needs.”

Professor Ross said the workshop was an appropriate platform to set the scene for current health disparities within these communities gleaned from publicly available data that was presented.

“We have gone into the communities and are establishing relationships with local AMSs to begin our journey of conducting research with them, including examining publicly available data on the burden of disease in their Local Government Area (LGA).”

According to the data, Professor Ross said some of the health disparities presented at the workshop included that the gap between First Nations and non-First Nations people in the five communities is still very large. For example, the average life expectancy of First Nations people in these communities is approximately 64 years of age compared to 84 years of age for Non-First Nations people.

The research also demonstrated that roughly 40 per cent of First Nations children are either overweight or obese, and approximately 70 per cent are physically inactive.

The workshop ran from 8.30am until 4.30pm on Tuesday 15 November at Charles Sturt Orange.

The Institute will continue to apply a longitudinal approach to working with the five AMS communities of Dubbo, Wellington, Gilgandra, Coonamble, and Orange, to address the chronic rural health gap in First Nation communities across Central West NSW.

ENDS
Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Professor Allen Ross, please contact Trease Clarke at Charles Sturt Media on 0409 741 789 or via news@csu.edu.au

Photo caption, L to R:

Executive Director of the Charles Sturt University Rural Health and Medical Research Institute Professor Allen Ross, Mr Taylor Clark and Ms Anne-Marie Mepham from Orange Aboriginal Medical Services, and Ms Cherie Forgione from Gilgandra Local Aboriginal Medical Service. 


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