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Report released to understand health of Aboriginal clients

The Salvation Army Crisis Services Access Health program in St Kilda has launched a research report that assesses the needs of its Aboriginal clients to coincide with National Reconciliation Week. 

The research report – ‘Talking Up Strong: Voices of our Mob’ was done in partnership with the University of Melbourne’s Koori Health Unit, Onemda. In consultation with staff and clients – the report assesses how Access Health’s current services are responding to need and gives advice about what could be done differently or better. 

Barramundi Dreaming by Les Stanley
Barramundi Dreaming by Les Stanley

The number of Aboriginal clients at Access Health has increased over the years in correlation with the increase in work hours of its Aboriginal Access Worker.

Over 1000 clients access the service each year. Aboriginal clients comprise approximately 13 per cent of the total even though they constitute less than 1 per cent of the total Victorian population. 

Melbourne University researcher Alister Thorpe thanked The Salvation Army for investing in the research and noted “it is rare to see an organisation that takes recommendations on board and respect its clients.”

For six weeks, two Melbourne University researches based themselves at The Salvation Army’s Access Health. They conducted 40 personal interviews with Aboriginal clients and 12 Access Health staff. Recommendations from this body of work were then submitted to the project’s reference group with identified opportunities to improve health services for Aboriginal people through Access Health. 

Some of the recommendations include: 

  • Better referral mechanisms to psychiatric and other key services for Aboriginal clients 
  • Work with other referral agencies in the region not currently well utilised by Aboriginal clients and explain what Access Health is and does
  • Inform Aboriginal clients about other services and what they do to increase their usage by Aboriginal clients  

To view the report click here  

What is Access Health? 

The Access Health Program provides accessible, responsive primary health care that enhances the health and well being for people who are marginalised and injecting drugs, street sex working and/or experiencing homelessness. In 2004, the service employed an Aboriginal Access Worker to undertake liaison, advocacy, access, support, education and referral services with vulnerable Aboriginal people living in the St Kilda area.