At AWH safe healthcare means providing a culturally safe experience for our staff, patients, visitors and community. In 2020-21 our staff have worked hard to ensure inclusiveness is a key part of the healthcare we provide, and cultural safety is embedded in our facilities and services.

Journey Towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Safety eLearning

Authors: Nissa Villegas, Organisational Development Business Partner; Kerrie Brown, Aboriginal Services Development

AWH plays a role in improving health outcomes of Aboriginal people. By enhancing our cultural awareness we develop stronger relationships and promote culturally safe environments, which lead to better health care outcomes for all Aboriginal patients and clients using our health services.

Our new and bespoke Towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Safety eLearning program has been developed in collaboration with Aboriginal employees, local community members and other local organisations. In coming together, we ensure that our local Aboriginal community is appropriately represented and that learning is tailored for community and workforce needs.

The interactive eLearning program covers aspects of the Aboriginal journey from pre-colonisation to today. A variety of learning activities have been used, making the content not only informative, but engaging. It includes stories of people in our community to powerfully illustrate needs around human-centred and culturally safe healthcare. Local Aboriginal artists work is also used throughout the program, enabling us to showcase local talent and further contextualise learning for our team members.

To date over 935 staff have completed the eLearning in just over 4 months however figures alone do not illustrate the impact the learning is having. Some weeks ago, we received unsolicited feedback from a staff member describing how informative and engaging the learning was. What was more powerful was that she shared and discussed what she had learnt with family members.  

By coming together with our Aboriginal employees and community members, we have been able to and deliver innovative learning that is vibrant, engaging and impactful but most importantly, centred on improving our understanding of Aboriginal culture, history and safety needs. Our journey continues and the more we come together with our Aboriginal community members the better we will be at living person-centred care.

This initiative was undertaken as a partnership between our Aboriginal employees, Organisational Development and representatives from our local Aboriginal community.  

Disability Action Plan

Author: Kylie Mason, Disability Liaison Officer 

At AWH we want everybody in our community to be able to access our health services in an inclusive and respectful way. We want all people to be treated in a way so they feel valued, supported and offered the same opportunities for participation.  Following a Community Forum and further consultation with people with disabilities, families, carers, local disability agencies and AWH staff, a new Disability Action Plan for 2019 – 2021 was developed. This Action Plan built on earlier achievements and plans.

One in five Australians has some form of disability and rates of disability increase as people age. AWH recognises that our services needs to be well equipped to meet the needs of people with disability and all those that support them.

We are proud to showcase some of the achievements over that time as we continue to move forward with developing stronger understanding, processes, consultation, opportunities, innovations and physical spaces which support inclusion and access for people with disability.

Access to communication and information is a significant part of the Disability Action Plan with improvements made across numerous areas. The AWH Website is undertaking a review for accessibility features. Improvements include increasing the website’s usability for people requiring screen reader software, reducing the complexity of the text and incorporating links for those preferring health information in Easy Read formats or languages other than English.   A designated page has been established for Access and Inclusivity information which highlight access supports and services available to the public. These supports include location of disabled car parking, location of accessible toilets, local disability services and making use of Volunteer Concierge services.   All patient information handouts, forms and brochures are routinely checked by the ORCHID committee with a focus on avoiding jargon and increasing readability. Low literacy versions of some health information including Action Plans for COPD and Heart Failure are increasingly being utilised on the wards and in chronic health disease services.

Staff at AWH are aware of the variety of different needs of all people who come through the door. Our Disability Action Plan ensures that we consistently review our policies and practices to reflect the needs and diversity of the community. Specific focus and resources have been invested to increase education, adjust policies and improve patient outcomes across several areas which are highly relevant to people with disability including identification and management of cognitive impairment, trauma informed practice and responding to family violence to name just a few.

The appointment of a Disability Liaison Officer (DLO) has been a noteworthy addition to the Disability Action Plan and services available for people with disability. The Disability Liaison Officer has had a focus on increasing access for people with disability to COVID related services including testing and vaccination. The Vaccination Hub has worked extensively with the DLO to ensure full accessibility and supports for staff including Social Stories for having a vaccination, information in Easy Read formats, access to Assisted Listening devices and inclusive media campaigns. Ongoing development of relationships between AWH, local people with disability, their family and carers and Disability Service Providers will support the future initiatives as we strive to provide inclusive health services so that everyone can thrive.

Please read here for more information on the journey AWH has taken to build on access and inclusivity. 

Artwork Competition Winner: Maramayart

Author: Kerrie Brown, Aboriginal Services Development

In 2020 AWH called on local Aboriginal and Torres Strait artists to enter an art competition with the successful piece becoming our brand for Aboriginal Health. The entrants needed to show the relationship between the local area and the health services that AWH provide. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people use art as a form of storytelling showing connection of culture, knowledge and beliefs.

The piece chosen by AWH Board of Directors, was by Tamara Murray, Maramayart. This beautiful piece of contemporary artwork will assist AWH in creating a welcoming environment to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and provide a point of conversation about the story of connection between our community and their health needs.

This piece represents the connection between Indigenous Australians and the Albury Wodonga Health service. On the left side are Indigenous people reaching out and connecting with local health services. There are many meeting places shown, reflecting the multi-faceted approach of Albury Wodonga Health. The middle section shows Albury Wodonga Health and to the right of AWH are three connecting circles, showing the importance of family, community and local health services in achieving holistic, spiritual and culturally appropriate health support for local Indigenous people.

Maramayart – ‘Bringing Health to You’

Access and inclusivity