Improving and Integrating Urban Indigenous Health Services

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The IUIH Employment Strategy 2023–2026

The IUIH Employment Strategy 2023–2026 guides how we build our workforce, following our Strategic Plan and Cultural Integrity Investment Framework, and embedding The Ways. It aims to grow both IUIH’s and the broader health and community services workforce, while simultaneously addressing employment as one of the social determinants of health for Our People.

The strategy builds on effective programs and work already underway. Through socialisation/propa ways, employment pathways, and growing our own, we will continue to develop the broader workforce, and equip and empower IUIH staff to enable effective and propa delivery of care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Southeast Queensland.

Supporting more than a decade of growth, 20% of our workforce has been recruited through our training and development pathways, and more than 50% of IUIH staff are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

The focus areas of education, employment pathways, and socialisation and development are already included in IUIH programs and ways of working, from Pathways, Our Way Academy  (POWA) and orientation to regular check-in yarns. Under the employment strategy this will continue to expand further into accredited training, school-based traineeships, work readiness programs, work-based traineeships, cadetships, broader university partnerships, and mentoring and support.

In collaboration with our network, funding bodies, and wider industry partnerships, we aim to achieve four strategic goals:

  • Strategic goal 1: mobilise our communities to increase employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
    • attracting Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people
    • culturally responsive best practice recruitment and retention
    • opening pathways
    • community collaboration
  • Strategic goal 2: an organisation with cultural integrity
    • socialising our people
    • working in propa ways
  • Strategic goal 3: growing a strong and deadly workforce
    • supporting continuous learning and development
    • facilitating networks that build supportive relationships and promote growth opportunities
  • Strategic goal 4: accountability for our outcomes
    • conduct rigorous reviews and be accountable and transparent in reporting our achievements.
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New IUIH System of Care 2 Research

The new IUIH System of Care 2 has been developed to build on the success of the original IUIH designed System of Care, an Indigenous-led holistic approach healthcare demonstrated to close the gap faster. IUIH is continually evolving to better respond to the rapid increase in Indigenous population growth in South East Queensland. 

Key Features of ISoC2:

  • Pods in Health Hubs: ISoC2 aims to reach a larger number of clients by using “pods” within proposed health hub precincts. These pods maintain the close connection and relational basis of interactions with care providers.
  • Integration and Care Coordination: ISoC2 emphasises integration and care coordination, consistent with the way IUIH Network clinics operate in South East Queensland.
  • Pod Model: The Pod Model supports stronger relationships between clients/families and their pod teams. It reduces wait times for appointments and ensures easier access to the right services.
  • Family-Centred Approach: Based on respect, relationships, and connections, pod teams focus on delivering care that meets the client and family’s needs.

Trial and Evaluation:

ISoC2 is currently being trialed at the Caboolture clinic, IUIH Goodna clinic, and the new Coomera hub. A comprehensive evaluation (process, outcome, and impact) will determine its effectiveness. Subject to the outcomes of this evaluation, a further rollout is planned across South East Queensland.

The Pod Model ensures stronger relationships, better-matched care, and comprehensive support for families.

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As flu cases rise, vaccination critical for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

As influenza cases rise ahead of winter and Australia’s traditional ‘flu season’, the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) is calling on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to get vaccinated as soon as possible. IUIH Public Health Physician, Dr Jacqueline Murdoch, said influenza is particularly serious for Indigenous people.

“The flu can make people really crook, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at a higher risk. It increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as pneumonia and other serious illnesses. A lot of people end up in hospital because of the flu. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, and your family and community from the flu.

“This year we want to make sure more of our community is protected, particularly groups at higher risk, including kids under five, older people, and anyone with a chronic health condition.

“Pregnant women also need to be vaccinated to reduce the risk of flu causing complications in their pregnancy, and to protect bub when they’re born before they can be vaccinated at six months old.

“We’ve seen a drop in the vaccination rate for kids, but the flu can make little kids really sick. It’s important for kids under five to be vaccinated,” Dr Murdoch said.

The influenza vaccine is safe and free for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. IUIH is encouraging community to get vaccinated now to ensure they are protected ahead of the peak ‘flu season’.

“We’ve seen the flu peak earlier than usual in the last couple of years. It also takes two weeks for the vaccine to take effect, so it’s important for people to get vaccinated as soon as possible so they are protected before we see the virus spread rapidly,” Dr Murdoch said.

IUIH Community Liaison Officer, Uncle Billy Gorham, regularly addresses misperceptions of influenza and the vaccine amongst community members.

“I hear all sorts of things about the flu. Some people think they’re young and healthy, or they take vitamin C, so they’ll be ok. That the flu isn’t bad. I always say they should yarn with their GP or someone at their local clinic, it’s important they know what’s true and how they can look after themselves and our Mob.

“I’ve already had my flu shot. I don’t want to get real crook, and I want to protect my family. We all live with people we care about, we don’t want to bring home the flu and make everyone sick. Even if you think you’re OK, think about those Mob you care about,” Uncle Billy said.

The influenza vaccine is available and free at clinics now. Contact your local clinic to book in.

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Reduction in Indigenous newborn removals by child protection services

Australian research published this month shows women who received care through an innovative Indigenous-led model of maternity care were three times less likely to have their Indigenous newborn removed by child protection services than women who received standard maternity care.

The research lands at the same time as the Australian Government’s Closing the Gap 2023 Annual Report which shows the rate of over-representation of Indigenous children in out-of-home care in Australia continues to increase.

Kristie Watego, Birthing in Our Community (BiOC) Service Development Manager, Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH), said the results show it is possible to significantly reduce the number of Indigenous babies removed at birth through effective holistic codesigned services.

“Existing maternity care models, and child protection systems, lack preventative measures and fail to prioritise family preservation. IUIH’s Birthing in Our Community service is a holistic, Indigenous-led and governed, multi-agency partnership between Aboriginal community-controlled health services and hospitals in parts of Southeast Queensland.

“It has already proven effective in improving health outcomes for Indigenous babies, reducing pre-term births by 38%, and significantly reducing related costs on the health system. Research now shows BiOC is also effective in improving family outcomes and reducing child protection intervention,” Ms Watego said.

In 2021-22 in the Southeast Queensland jurisdiction where this research took place, Indigenous babies accounted for 43% of infants in out-of-home care while only representing 9.7% of all infants.

The research was conducted at IUIH’s Salisbury BiOC Community Hub and their partner, Brisbane’s Mater Mothers’ Hospital, from 2013 to 2019. During the study, 1988 women pregnant with Indigenous babies were offered either standard care or the BiOC service. In that time 944 women (960 babies) received BiOC care while 1044 women (1048) babies received standard care.

Thirty-one women who received standard care had their babies removed by child protection services at birth, while only nine of the women who received BiOC care had their babies removed. The BiOC model of care also showed a significantly lower removal rate (9.5 per 1000) than the 2021-22 national rate of 57.8 per 1000.

“The BiOC model of care offers a more holistic and culturally safe and supportive wrap-around service. We see women come earlier and more often during their pregnancy because we’ve built relationships and connection with them. They feel comfortable and trust our staff, and that means they disclose challenges and then engage to strengthen themselves and their families. That’s at odds with what you often see in standard services with women concerned about child protection services,” Ms Watego said.

Renee Blackman, CEO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service Brisbane, which partners with IUIH to run BiOC Hubs in Brisbane, said the design of the integrated service was integral to the improved outcomes.

“Pregnancy and childbirth provide an opportune time to engage women and break cycles of trauma. Unfortunately, most strategies and funding are directed towards child removal at birth which is expensive and avoidable in many cases,” Ms Blackman said.

The BiOC model is an example of what the Closing the Gap reforms were intended to deliver, significant impact through a strong community-controlled sector, transforming government organisations, shared decision-making, and shared access to better data in collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations.

Adrian Carson, CEO, IUIH, said the research is timely evidence of the success of community-controlled approaches after this month’s damning Productivity Commission review of progress on the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

“The review highlighted the lack of meaningful change in many areas, particularly that governments had failed to enable self-determination through sharing of power, and need to recognise that the community-controlled sector can achieve better results.

“We’ve demonstrated improvements in health and community outcomes, that it is possible to close the gap, and we’re contributing long-term cost savings to governments in the process. As a community-controlled health service we’ve successfully led the design and delivery of this incredibly effective service in partnership with mainstream services. It’s time for action, and funding, to follow the evidence,” Mr Carson said.

Professor Yvette Roe, Director, Charles Darwin University’s Molly Wardaguga Research Centre, said that the implications are clear for policy and practice.

“Investment in Indigenous organisations across the country to provide these evidence-based services is urgent,” Professor Roe said.

The research was published in Child Abuse & Neglect, The International Journal by the International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. Link to full paper: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213424000395

The research was funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, and involved staff, data and researchers from the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service Brisbane, Mater Mothers’ Hospital, Mater Research, and Charles Darwin University.

Additional BiOC research
  • The Lancet (2023): Birthing on country service compared to standard care for First Nations Australians: a cost-effectiveness analysis from a health system perspective Link to journal
  • The Lancet (2021): Effect of a Birthing on Country service redesign on maternal and neonatal health outcomes for First Nations Australians: a prospective, non-randomised, interventional trial Link to journal
  • The Lancet (2019): Reducing preterm birth amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies: A prospective cohort study, Brisbane, Australia Link to journal
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Our space. A BiOC short film series

Birthing in Our Community has developed a series of short films to celebrate more than a decade of intensive support to families across South East Queensland, Australia.

The third short film “Our space. BiOC staff talk about the Model of Care.” follows a yarn with our deadly staff Gwendolyn Blom, Helena Williams, Bec Watego and Kendi-Grant Freeman about how it’s been working with our mums and bubs over the last 10 years and what it means to create a safe birthing space for Mob.

Or to reach the friendly BiOC team call 07 3274 5700.

For all media enquiries, email comms@iuih.org.au

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BiOC Strathpine moves to a new location

BiOC Strathpine has had a lovely start to the New Year. We are excited to announce that the BiOC Hub in Strathpine has relocated to: 

16 Mecklem Street, Strathpine, Qld 4500.
 
We were lucky to get a snap of some of the BiOC Strathpine staff inside the new reception area. Check out the deadly new BiOC signage outside the building!
 
The new BiOC building from the front with the new signage - BiOC Birthing in Our Community
A selected number of BiOC staff from Strathpine in the new office.
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IUIH’s aged care service celebrates 10 years

The Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) recently celebrated 10 years of providing deadly aged care services to our Elders. IUIH started providing aged care services in 2013 to respond to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders for culturally appropriate support. The service has helped Elders maintain their independence, improve their quality of life, and stay in their own homes for longer.

IUIH General Manager of Aged Care Matt Moore said, “When our service started, only 49 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders on the northside of Brisbane were receiving  aged care services from mainstream providers, out of a population 32,000. Since IUIH started culturally appropriate aged care in 2013, we have served 4,056 people in the northside of Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Sunshine Coast and Fraser Coast areas.

“We currently serve 1,600 and we have 280 people who are on the waitlist.

“Importantly, we still have six Elders who were our original clients from our first ever intake back in 2013 who are still with our service today. I would like to recognise them, because they have helped other Elders access our services by word of mouth, which has been incredibly powerful.”

On 15 December, IUIH CEO Adrian Carson, Matt Moore with other members of IUIH’s executive leadership team and Ambassador Willie Tonga joined 380 current clients and 50 of our team for a luncheon to celebrate the milestone.

Thank you to all the Uncles and Aunties who attended; it was a deadly celebration. We are honoured to have been able to serve you for 10 years. Matt Moore was also recognised for his service and dedication to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aged care.

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2023 Aunty Pamela Mam Oration

As Patron of IUIH, over the years Aunty Pam’s guidance has staunchly driven IUIH in relentless pursuit of creating transformational change for Our People.  For in Aunty Pam’s words “Nothing is to stop, everything must continue”. 

In the continuance of Aunty Pam’s legacy, we are pleased to announce Mr. Neil Wilmett as the 2023 orator of the Aunty Pamela Mam Oration, with the theme being ‘Living in Yes: A Drive to Create Change’.

Living in Yes: A Drive to Create Change

The 14th of October 2023 is a date that will go down in the history of this Country. A date in and amongst many dates but is it a date that will go on to define us? 

 

Join us as we reflect on not only our learnings from Aunty Pam and to celebrate 50 years of Community Control in South East Queensland, but to also discuss the challenge of what the next 50 years will bring.  

Our Orator for this year’s event is Mr. Neil Wilmett; a Waanyi and Kuku Yalanji Man from Far North Queensland.  Neil has a historical connection to Aunty Pam and to the political mobilisation of our communities throughout significant points of time in Queensland.

 

Neil is a national leader in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing, health, economic development and administration. He is known as a leading thinker and for his work in strategy and policy development and implementation.

Throughout his career, Neil has led a number of peak body organisations and is the former Chief Executive Officer of the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC). While the Chief Executive Officer of QAIHC between 2017 and 2020, he built member sustainability, improved partnerships and advocated strongly for inward investment in the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heath Sector.

With national and international experience in business strategy, policy and change leadership within dynamic business environments, Neil has a proven track record in achieving outcomes. This has been forged while in leadership roles in Australia, government, the private sector and whilst a visiting (Winston) Churchill Leadership Fellow in the USA, Canada and New Zealand.

Neil brings a deep understanding and broad experience of community control, leadership and governance. 

EVENT DETAILS

Date: Tue, 28th November 2023

Time: 6 – 9pm

Where: The Ballroom, Victoria Park, 309 Herston Road, Herston

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The Staying Deadly Survey Findings

By the people for the people: Landmark survey amplifies community voice to reform mental health system

A landmark study, released this month, has engaged Southeast Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to speak about their mental health, report their preferences for care, and guide lasting mental health system reform.

The four-year project, known as The Staying Deadly Survey (or the Queensland Urban Indigenous Mental Health Survey) commenced in 2018 and was led by The Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research (QCMHR) in partnership with the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH).

The cross-sectional population survey of more than 400 adult First Nations Australians in Southeast Queensland (SEQ) was undertaken with considerable planning and community consultation to determine the most suitable and culturally appropriate methods for undertaking the survey.

Lead Investigator and QCMHR researcher, Associate Professor Alize Ferrari said the study is the first of its kind in Australia to provide a comprehensive picture of the mental health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in an urban setting.

“The study found that members of the SEQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community who participated in the survey had faced significant mental health adversity and had clear preferences for the type of care they wanted for their mental health,” Associate Professor Ferrari said.

“For instance, in the 12 months prior to the survey 40 per cent of respondents experienced a mental disorder and 10 per cent experienced harmful substance use.

“These rates are high, but it is also important to acknowledge that a large proportion of participating community members were well during this time with many participants reporting that they had abstained from alcohol or illicit drugs use altogether.”

The survey also asked participants to report their experiences with mental health services, with 74.4 percent preferring those provided by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services as opposed to mainstream service providers.

“While the majority of respondents did not feel they needed a service for their mental health in the past 12 months, 22 per cent reported that they needed a service but did not access or receive any care,” Associate Professor Ferrari said.

“Some reported this was because services did not help them when they asked for it, or services were too expensive to access.

“These findings offer important information to assist service planning and guide service providers and policy makers to understand where the barriers to care exist and how to address them.

“As expected, we also found the COVID 19 pandemic had an impact on our respondent’s mental health, with more than 22 per cent of participants reporting that they required increased mental health support, often due to changes in work circumstances, distress caused by separation from family or close friends, or restriction of life events or participation in social activities.”

Importantly, participants who reported higher connection and belonging to culture, participation in cultural events and activities, and feelings of empowerment were less likely to experience a mental disorder or hazardous substance use in their lifetime compared to those who reported less cultural connection and participation and felt disempowered by their circumstances.

“We hope these findings highlight the value of future research to understand and quantify the protective role of cultural identity on the health and wellbeing of First Nations People, and how this information can be used to shape intervention strategies and community mental health programs and services,” Associate Professor Ferrari said.

IUIH Chief Executive Officer, Adrian Carson, said the survey provides valuable information for policy makers, service planners and service providers in reforming mental health services to better meet the needs of First Nations people.

“I congratulate the research team and our Indigenous interviewers on completion of this study during particularly difficult circumstances including the COVID-19 pandemic and local floods,” Mr Carson said.

“They have taken a culturally safe and sensitive approach to conduct honest and open yarns with Mob on particularly difficult subjects and have made a significant contribution to the evidence base for mental healthcare reform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

“Our people have spoken and presented a challenge for the Queensland health system to respond.

“Since the survey, Queensland Health has been quick to act by investing in the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled specialised mental health service hubs in SEQ.”

The Queensland Urban Indigenous Mental Health Survey was funded by the Queensland Department of Health and the report is publicly available here.

 

Media contact: Kate Gadenne, QCMHR, k.gadenne@uq.edu.au

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Our ways. A BiOC short film series

Birthing in Our Community has developed a series of short films to celebrate more than a decade of intensive support to families across South East Queensland, Australia.

The second short film “Our ways. Strong deadly parents.” follows a yarn with real BiOC families benefiting from the original program.

Or to reach the friendly BiOC team call 07 3274 5700.

For all media enquiries, email comms@iuih.org.au