“After several attempts at community meetings and extensive consultation with people in the communities, I returned to basics. What are the traditional ways of passing on information in Aboriginal communities? The answer came from my childhood and family environment. Information is usually passed on by family and friends at small gatherings in familiar and informal surroundings. Information passes quickly through the community by word of mouth, a ripple effect from the original gathering. This led me to develop a new format for my heart-health meetings — small gatherings of friends or family, with a meal and a talk hosted by a respected community member who was trained as a lay educator to deliver the message on the link between lifestyle and cardiovascular disease.”
From: Spreading the word on cardiovascular health: report of a study aimed at developing a culturally appropriate method for delivering health messages to Indigenous Australians
by Julie Owen, Finalist, Dr Ross Ingram Memorial Essay Competition
"There was also the fear of the unknown. I got to thinking about the needle going into my eye. What if it went through and hit my brain somehow? What if the operating team thought that this was a stupid Aboriginal woman screaming her head off when she was out to it? What if I came out with one eye missing? Would they chuck it down the drain or keep it to show me what a diabetic eye looked like? Those were only some of the thoughts going through my mind.
. . . There should be more Aboriginal health workers trained to have not only clinical skills but language skills brought to the area so that they can go into the homes or community and talk, demonstrate and teach them. They should work in schools with Aboriginal and Islander education workers.”
From: Am I living in my grandmother's shoes?
by Elizabeth Lockyer, Finalist, Dr Ross Ingram Memorial Essay Competition
“We need to talk about such things as the words ‘health’ and ‘sickness’ that are imposed upon us as a group of people. You need to explain fully what you mean by ‘sickness’. How can I be ‘sick’ when I am still enjoying life? I can still drink, walk around, and play cards, so I can’t be sick. And what is ‘health’?
. . . We as people who work in Aboriginal health become so overwhelmed by the enormity of the problems, both in and out of our work place, that we never really ‘knock off work’, so to speak. We have no avenue to debrief; we even get to the stage where we actually have to determine which is the most appropriate or highest-priority funeral to go to.”
From: Indigenous health
by Pamela J Hunter, Finalist, Dr Ross Ingram Memorial Essay Competition
Publication of your online response is subject to the Medical Journal of Australia's editorial discretion. You will be notified by email within five working days should your response be accepted.