Our organisation has always had a strong commitment to supporting the local Aboriginal community, which is encapsulated in our Reconciliation Action Plan that we launched earlier this year.
The voice of this community is an important one, and helps us to shape how our services are designed so they culturally appropriate.
This feedback has been an important influence in shaping what we do in the area of mental health and addiction support services. We heard from our local Aboriginal community that there were not enough trained Aboriginal people to deliver these services for the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander community.
This led to us commissioning the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health to support local Aboriginal students in completing a Diploma in Mental Health, specialising in mental health and alcohol and other drugs.
The program, which commenced in 2017, has now concluded and as a result we are thrilled to this year have 9 new graduates qualified for Aboriginal mental health and addiction support work.
Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people often face extra barriers when accessing health services and these graduates will help our community by providing culturally safe and appropriate support that will help break down some of those barriers.
Before these nine students graduated, our consultations indicated that there was only one qualified Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander professional delivering support for mental health services in our region.
As a result of this program, there are now ten Indigenous workers in the region qualified to provide support for people with mental health and drug and alcohol needs.