RBWH Closing the Gap with dedicated culturally safe space
Queensland’s largest hospital has opened a dedicated, private and culturally safe space as part of a commitment toward Closing the Gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services Steven Miles has welcomed the addition of the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) Indigenous Hospital Liaison space, for patients and families to step away from the busy environment and meet with staff about their health journey.
“Our large city hospitals are often intimidating to patients from rural and remote communities, so it is also important to connect those patients with staff who share and understand what they’re going through,” Mr Miles said.
“Indigenous Hospital Liaison Officers are integral in helping deliver culturally-appropriate care to support patients to understand and share in their own healthcare journey,” he said.
Metro North’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Unit Director Sherry Holzapfel said the Indigenous Hospital Liaison (IHL) program services around 400 clients at RBWH each month, and many more from rural and remote communities across the state.
“IHL Officers now have a fully-dedicated space to work with our patients to improve access, incorporate cultural protocols and a social view of health, and make our health service a welcoming and far less intimidating place,” Ms Holzapfel said.
“It increases the visibility of our service and offers easier access for our patients, carers and community members in a culturally safe and welcoming environment, which is a crucial component in reducing the level of discharge against medical advice.”
By 2031, the Indigenous population in South East Queensland is projected to reach more than 133,000 – almost double that of other states – however the number of those with clinical training is extremely underrepresented, particularly in medicine.
“Metro North’s four-year Better Together plan will ensure all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accessing our healthcare services will receive high-quality person-centred care that is culturally responsive, empowers self-care and choice, and is designed to improve health and wellbeing,” Ms Holzapfel said.
The new community space is located on Level 1 of the Ned Hanlon Building at RBWH and features colourful artwork by Aboriginal artist Elaine Chambers-Hegarty as a visual invitation when patients enter the hospital.