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New Aboriginal Health Service Program Launches

IHSS Maari Ma Bila Muuji

The Western NSW Primary Health Network’s (WNSW PHN’s) commitment to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with chronic health conditions will see a significant enhancement from 1 November, when the Integrated Team Care (ITC) program is introduced. ITC is the new Australian Government funded program incorporating the Care Coordination and Supplementary Services and Improving Indigenous Access to Mainstream Primary Care activities. ITC services will ensure that eligible patients of both mainstream and Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS) have better access to coordinated and multidisciplinary care.

WNSW PHN values its unique partnership with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and their combined focus on improving health outcomes through integrated health, social and cultural activity, across mainstream General Practice and primary care networks.

From 1 November, Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation, in conjunction with Bila Muuji Aboriginal Health Services Inc., will work together to implement the ITC program in the Western NSW PHN region with their newly created Indigenous Health Support Service (IHSS). Operating as a brokerage service, the IHSS will introduce its service to General Practices (GPs) in Western NSW currently caring for Aboriginal people under the previous programs.

A central phone number and direct email contact for IHSS Care Link Workers has been communicated to mainstream health providers and AMSs. GPs with an Aboriginal patient eligible for the ITC program will work with the relevant Care Link Worker to continue the management of current patient support services.

“Continuity of care is the number one priority during the transition to the new arrangements,” said Donna Jeffries, IHSS Manager at Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation. “We have been working alongside the current service providers, ensuring that both patients and GPs alike have been well informed.” continued Ms Jeffries.

ITC objectives for closing the gap in life expectancy by improved access to culturally appropriate mainstream primary care services (including but not limited to general practice, allied health and specialists) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, are achieved by fostering collaboration and support between the mainstream primary care and the AMSs.

The IHSS model enables the GP to provide the clinical care supported by a Care Link Worker and the provision of supplementary services. This new model facilitates significantly more funds being spent on direct service provision.

“We recognise the value of effective partnerships with Aboriginal Communities and are enthusiastic about the potential of the IHSS and the experience that Maari Ma and Bila Muuji will bring to the delivery of the ITC program,” said Kim Whiteley, Aboriginal Health Manager at WNSW PHN, recently recruited to oversee the ITC program and other Aboriginal health initiatives. “Acknowledging the need for change and ensuring that our programs remain current is essential to reaching our goals in improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our region” continued Mrs Whiteley.

The new model and the key partnerships that underpin the implementation of the IHSS, strengthen the services of the WNSW PHN in its ongoing commitment to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this region.

Contact the IHSS:
Phone: 1800 940 757
Fax: 08 8082 9889