Close the Gap Day: Coledale nurse says progress made can be hard to measure

KEEPING TRACK: Rebecca Butler and clinical nurse consultant Matt Crawford say progress has been made improving Indigenous health. Photo: Jacob McArthur 130318JMA01
KEEPING TRACK: Rebecca Butler and clinical nurse consultant Matt Crawford say progress has been made improving Indigenous health. Photo: Jacob McArthur 130318JMA01

PROGRESS in the ongoing bid to close the gap and improve Indigenous health outcomes is hard to measure, a local Aboriginal health worker says.

Thursday will mark Close the Gap Day, an event dedicated to raising awareness about Indigenous life-expectancy and health outcomes.

The federal government first set down a policy to overcome inequalities in Indigenous health 10 years ago.

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Clinical nurse consultant Matt Crawford has worked in Aboriginal health for more than a decade and he said the Coledale Community Centre had made some “powerful” progress.

Mr Crawford said it came down to a lot of data which was hard to capture, such as informal referrals which resulted in more people addressing health issues in Coledale.

“It offers that really friendly comfortable space where people can go, ‘hey, I’m a bit worried about this’ or ‘my mum said I should come in’ or ‘my brothers said I should come and see someone, because we’ve got this in our family’,” he told The Leader.

“Or the family came to an event here where we were talking about prevention.

“It ripples out and that’s really powerful.”

He said “harder data” like the recent closing the gap report wasn’t able to capture this kind of progress.

“From my perspective, if people are accessing services regularly, that tells me that person is comfortable and happy with what’s being provided,” he said.

“That’s half the battle, you can’t help someone who doesn’t access the service.”

He said the Coledale centre was also good at addressing “social-determinant” issues which might be causing other health problems.

“When people are doing well, it’s usually because a lot of things are going along reasonably well at home,” he said.

“When things change, and things aren’t going well at home, we see people’s health deteriorate and we see their control of their diabetes deteriorate, we see these other problems come into play.”

The Coledale centre will host an event on Thursday to mark Close the Gap Day with a free barbecue and access to a range of local health providers from 10am.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can expect to live 10 to 17 years less than other Australians, according to the Close the Gap campaign.

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