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“By Aboriginal People, For Aboriginal People” – GEGAC Launches New Aboriginal Health Team

GEGAC’s new Aboriginal Health Team: Leteisha Bryant, Carmel Hood, Michelle Pearce, Linda Pearce, Samantha Johnstone, Rhiannon Hayes and Kayla Harrison.

On average Aboriginal men and women live shorter lives, and get sick more often, than non-Aboriginal people.

This difference in the health and lifespans of Aboriginal people compared to non-Aboriginal people is the motivation for the Close The Gap campaign, which raises awareness of the disadvantages that Aboriginal people face in terms of health, and also education, employment, justice, safety and housing.

National Close The Gap Day is this Thursday, 21 March, and GEGAC is using this week to make an important improvement to how we provide health services to Aboriginal people here in East Gippsland…

Introducing our new Aboriginal Health Team.

Made up of registered Aboriginal Health Practitioners and Aboriginal Health Workers, the role of the Aboriginal Health Team will be to provide front line to care to mob both at GEGAC and in the community, working in partnership with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal doctors, nurses and other health care workers.

Team Leader Michelle Pearce, a registered Aboriginal Health Practitioner whose family has played a key role in GEGAC’s history since it’s creation, says the new Aboriginal Health Team recaptures the spirit and practice of GEGAC’s founding.

“GEGAC was built by Aboriginal people, for Aboriginal people. That also means Aboriginal people providing care for Aboriginal people, how it was at the start.”

Michelle Pearce

Michelle said she hopes the Aboriginal Health Team continues GEGAC’s efforts to make mob feel comfortable coming to the health service, or calling with questions or concerns.

The Aboriginal Health Team is:

  • Aboriginal Health Practitioner + Team Leader Michelle Pearce
  • Aboriginal Health Practitioner Linda Pearce
  • Aboriginal Health Worker Carmel Hood
  • Aboriginal Health Worker Kayla Harrison
  • Aboriginal Health Worker Leteisha Bryant
  • Maternity Health Worker Samantha Johnstone
  • Aboriginal Healthy Lifestyles Worker Rhiannon Hayes

Aboriginal Health Practitioners can provide a range of health services, including health assessments and screenings, checking blood sugar levels and blood pressure, supporting clients with their treatment plans and rehabilitation, and helping community members navigate the health system outside GEGAC.

Although there are only two Aboriginal Health Practitioners at GEGAC at the moment, that number is set to increase, with Samantha Johnstone, Leteisha Bryant and Kayla Harrison currently studying for their Certificate IV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care Practice and set to graduate next month.

Rhiannon Hayes begins her Cert IV course later this year.

“We are all looking forward to being able to help people that come into the clinic, and also to get out into the community, to have those one-on-one conversations,” Michelle said. “If your family or organisation is interested in arranging a visit from the Aboriginal Health Team, just give us a call or drop by.”

Practice Manager Tammy Chatwin encouraged everyone in community to reach out to the Aboriginal Health Team for any needs they have, or if they just want to have a yarn about their health.

“Our Aboriginal Health Team is the first point of contact for mob. Whether it’s your 715 Health Check, maybe you have a question about your treatment, want help managing your diabetes, want to schedule a skin check or breast scan, these guys can help you with anything.”

Tammy Chatwin

“Just give us a ring, or come down here, and ask to speak to a member of the Aboriginal Health Team.”

GEGAC’s medical clinic is open Monday – Thursday, 9am – 5pm, and Friday from 9am – 3pm.

Call 5150 0760 to reach medical clinic reception, and ask to speak to a member of the Aboriginal Health Team.

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