Plan of action for reconciliation

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Some of remote Queensland’s key health industry leaders and professionals converged on Mount Isa’s Ibis Styles in November 2015 for the launch of longstanding healthcare provider North and West Remote Health’s (NWRH) Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and Strategic Directions.

Following the organisation’s Annual General Meeting, guests were invited to the special function which launched NWRH’s newly-endorsed RAP and highlighted the organisations strategic direction for 2016 and beyond.

Operating as a healthcare provider in and around Remote Western Queensland since 2001, and servicing some 39 communities, NWRH specialises in outreach and locallybased health services to some of Australia’s most remote and discrete Aboriginal communities.

An expansive geographical area providing significant challenges — including access to services in light of extreme remoteness — NWRH is also very conscious of the need to promote mutually-respectful relationships with the many communities they service; hence the steps to develop the RAP and processes that support the organisation to develop and embed cultural competence.

Speaking more on what the RAP means to the organisation and communities in which they serve, NWRH Board Chair Phil Barwick said that recognition and respect of Australia’s First Nations peoples has always been part of the NWRH’s engagement and operational strategy. “The Traditional Owners and local Custodians across our delivery area are central to building service delivery relationships that are respectful and safe, and broker protocols that lead on to Cultural Security,” Mr Barwick said.

“Reconciliation is many things to a primary healthcare organisation like ours. We acknowledge that its influence can fluctuate like cycles of business do, so recently we have embarked on a number of practical fronts that steer our push to achieve a level of reconciliation in real time across our delivery geography.”

Mr Barwick also made sure to emphasise the importance to continue the push for greater engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people moving forward. “We are now on the cusp of reconciliation having its rightful role in our future as an agent of health delivery into Indigenous Australia,” Mr Barwick said. “The fact that we are now finalising the development of policy augured by reconciliation action is testimony to our intent. This action reflects a whole of organisation strategic context which I believe is encompassed by our Reconciliation Action Plan.”

Also speaking at the launch function was NWRH Manager of Indigenous Initiatives, Steve Thomson, who highlighted some of the steps achieved to date on NWRH’s RAP journey. These include: the registration and endorsement of NWRH’s RAP by Reconciliation Australia (independent national body for promotion of reconciliation); the establishment of documented protocols for Welcome to and Acknowledgement of Country; the introduction of cultural foundation training; the introduction of an Indigenous employment strategy; and the introduction of a culturally-informed grief and loss policy.

This article was contributed by North and West Remote Health for the February 2016 edition of The Health Advocate. To access current and previous issues, click here.