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Strong Voice Healthy Communities

Mid North Coast Local Health District
Project Added:
4 December 2014
Last updated:
5 February 2015

Strong Voice Healthy Communities

Aboriginal Patient and Family Centered Project

Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD)


To establish culturally appropriate mechanisms to ensure MNCLHD engages and works with Aboriginal patients, families and communities to plan and evaluate health services and to ensure effective partnerships with Aboriginal communities are established to improve the quality and safety of care provided.

Aboriginal Artwork by Brentyn Lugnan 2014

Download a poster from the Redesign School gradution December 2014.


Ensure that programs being implemented for the Aboriginal communities are appropriate for their needs and are subject to ongoing evaluation in collaboration with the communities.


  • Improved health outcomes and access to care for Aboriginal people.
  • Reduced re-admissions of chronic disease and representations to Emergency Departments (EDs).
  • More Aboriginal people as consumer representatives on health committees and reference groups.
  • Initial planning of service delivery will  be culturally competent to meet the needs of the Aboriginal communities


Aboriginal people have proud traditions and active contemporary communities living on the Mid North Coast of NSW. Yet these communities are disadvantaged by poorer health and wellbeing than the rest of the community.

Chronic diseases are placing an unacceptable burden on adults and the elderly, and health services continue to be challenged in their capacity to address these avoidable illnesses. The over representation of Aboriginal people in our health system is recognised with:

  • high hospitalisation rates
  • re-admission for potentially preventable diseases such as chronic diseases
  • high rates of Discharged Against Medical Advice

The MNCLHD delivers a wide range of health services to Aboriginal people from preventative, early detection and diagnostic services to acute treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care services.

Currently there are a number of strategies used to obtain feedback from the patients, families and the community on health service provision.

It is unclear whether these strategies provide evidence of the effectiveness of the health programs being delivered for the Aboriginal population.


A diagnostic was undertaken which included process mapping, the use of Patient Experience Trackers, patient and staff interviews, brain storming and multi-voting.

In consultation with Aboriginal community members the following solutions were prioritised in order to increase engagement in a culturally appropriate manner.

  • Identify specific key Aboriginal people in the Aboriginal community
  • Use cultural venues for workshops to educate the Aboriginal community through community connection forum
  • Promote the Respecting the Difference (RTD) training advertisement on screen-savers, so staff become more aware of cultural issues
  • Open questions and answer time with senior managers at arranged Aboriginal community meetings
  • Recruitment of an Aboriginal Consumer Engagement Officer
  • Standing agenda item CESC- MNCLHD 'Engaging Aboriginal communities'
  • Recruitment drive within various LHD Aboriginal Forums and community meetings


  • Monitor compliance through the Respecting the Difference Aboriginal Workforce Sub-committee of MNCLHD
  • Monitor and review of Aboriginal Health Impact Statement process
  • Monitor compliance through the Community Engagement Sub-Committee MNCLHD


  • Aboriginal communities of the Mid North Coast
  • Aboriginal Health Directorate MNCLHD
  • Booroogen Djgun Aboriginal Nursing Home / College
  • Durri Aboriginal Medical Corporation Medical Service, Kempsey
  • Werin Aboriginal Corporation Service, Port Macquarie
  • Biripai Aboriginal Lands Council Port Macquarie
  • Dunghutti Elders Council

Lessons Learnt

  • Aboriginal communities need more time to process and gain trust with health services.
  • Allow the community to live their culture and not be pushed into a time frame that health staff believe is required or appropriate.
  • It is important to put things into perspective, it is all in the timing when working or implementing programs within Aboriginal communities.



Artwork in thumbnail by Brentyn Lugnan 2014.


Narelle Cochrane
Management Innovations Officer
Mid North Coast Local Health District
Phone: 0418 207 440

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