Meeting local needs: How Northern Territory Primary Health Network is promoting health literacy through talking posters

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Northern Territory Primary Health Network (NT PHN) has continued to promote a series of talking posters to improve the access of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to messages about general healthcare and the prevention of chronic health conditions. Specific themes of the talking posters produced thus far include Care Coordination and Supplementary Services in the Top End and Central Australia, kidney health, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma.

Since their creation, the NT PHN’s talking posters have received national recognition for their innovative approach to promoting the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Back in September 2014, one of the posters won the Health Promotion Journal of Australia, Australian Health Promotion Association and CSIRO Publishing People’s choice — Best Poster Award at the 22nd National Australian Health Promotion Association Conference and at the 18th Chronic Diseases Network Conference in Alice Springs.

The core value of the posters is that they help overcome language and literacy barriers by creating resources that can talk to viewers in a number of different Aboriginal languages at the press of a button. This makes for a fun and interactive way of delivering important health information. The messages are spoken in both English and local Indigenous languages, and have been developed in partnership with key stakeholders, industry experts and community members.

The posters for promoting Top End Care Coordination and Supplementary services each have five buttons in English, Yolngu, Tiwi, Kriol and Murrinh Patha. Posters for promoting Central Australian Care Coordination Services have five buttons in English, Pitjantjatjara, Warlpiri, Central Arrernte and Luritjapintupi.

The talking poster focusing on the theme of key kidney health includes six messages presented in various languages across both the Top End and Central Australian regions — including English, Tiwi, Murrinh Patha, Yolngu, Warlpiri, Arrernte and Pitjantjatjara. The script for the spoken words was created specifically to align with the Kidney Heath Australia fact sheets and Northern Territory kidney stories resources.

Another of the talking posters was developed to convey key messages, early warning signs and danger signs of COPD, as well as to enable greater prevention and early identification of the disease. This poster contains the communication elements needed to improve health literacy levels around the signs and symptoms of chronic lung disease so that people have the health knowledge required to make timely decisions about their COPD health. It is currently being used by the respiratory nurses at Royal Darwin Hospital, as well as at remote community clinics.

Two other talking posters have educational messages on asthma. Each of these has three different language groups with a written English translation. The posters contain clear simple messages promoting the use of a spacer and the regular use of preventer medication — both of which are vital ingredients in consistent asthma management. The Asthma Foundation will promote and distribute the talking posters to interested facilities or communities such as schools, child care centres, hospitals, community care centres, health clinics, sports centres and local councils.

This article first appeared in The Health Advocate. To access current and previous editions of The Health Advocate, click here.