Representatives of seven key community groups met with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff in Alice Springs on Wednesday, providing a wealth of insights which will help shape the College Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan.
Community members met with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff for the workshop, discussing key community health priorities and opportunities to collaborate and drive positive change.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff have met to discuss the Plan over the past two months, mapping out processes for community consultation and discussing priorities, evaluation and measurement. Initial consultations have been conducted with school students, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Workers and careers practitioners in Darwin, with further consultations planned for Adelaide, Darwin, Alice Springs and Katherine.
The Health Plan is being developed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff led by Associate Professor Maree Meredith and Aboriginal Health Lecturer Kath Martin – and will provide clear priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and strategies relevant to the whole College for the first time.
“It’s really exciting to see so many community groups willing to come and work with us to build our understanding of local health priorities and opportunities to work together,” Associate Professor Meredith said.
“Flinders has made a great contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health over 40 years in SA and 25 years in the NT, but our consultations are finding that many people still don’t know what we do.
“Communities have told us loud and clear that homogenous programs designed for a generic representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are not working. The issues and key community powerhouses capable of making change are completely different in Alice Springs compared to Nhulunbuy or Darwin. To be valued and effective, we need to partner and work closely with local communities, targeting our impact.”
Kath Martin said there were also many insights which could help drive participation in research and an ethical approach to feeding back research insights.
“Research is a dirty word in many communities. Community members in Darwin and Alice Springs are telling us that decades of being studied by researchers without hearing outcomes has created a resentment of research and an unwillingness to participate,” Ms Martin said.
“These consultations will help provide new insights into how we can improve engagement with communities for research projects and feedback information in a relevant and effective way from research projects.
“The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan is being developed for everybody in the College, providing insights that will help improve engagement, education, research and impact outcomes for communities, as well as for Flinders.”
The plan will be finalised in the next few months, after consultations with staff, students, partners and community.