STAYING IMMUNISED: Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast PHN's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Co-ordinator Gordon Browning receiving his flu shot from Gympie nurse Theresa Plover. Picture: Contributed
STAYING IMMUNISED: Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast PHN's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Co-ordinator Gordon Browning receiving his flu shot from Gympie nurse Theresa Plover. Picture: Contributed

Elders ‘in this together’ for community health

INDIGENOUS Australians are being urged to regularly visit their doctors or health workers for National Reconciliation Week.

Wide Bay Primary Health Network co-ordinator Coodjinburra man Gordon Browning said it's an important message as COVID-19 restrictions start to lift and we head into flu season.

"The theme for this year's National Reconciliation Week is 'In this together', so making and keeping medical appointments can help keep your family and community healthy," Mr Browning said.

"The flu vaccine is especially important because the Elders in our community are more likely to get very sick from flu and need treatment in hospital.

"The flu shot is free for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over six months old, and you can get your free flu shot, like I did last week, at your GP, community health clinic, or Aboriginal Medical Service.

"It's really important for indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to keep up with their and their family's health care, and to make sure they don't miss immunisations and other vital health check-ups - particularly for those living with or at risk of developing chronic disease."

National Reconciliation Week runs each year between 27 May - 3 June, with 2020 marking the 20th anniversary.

Yugambeh woman and chairman of North Coast Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health (NCACCH) aunty Helen Felstead said it's an excellent time to consider the significant health inequities still facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

"There needs to be a holistic approach to our health, by looking at housing, education and employment as well as health," aunty Helen said.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are often affected by preventable diseases at a higher rate than non-Indigenous children, so getting our bubbas vaccinated is highly effective in reducing the rate of illness and death."

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), indigenous Australians experience a burden of disease that is nearly two and half times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians, with chronic disease accounting for two thirds of that.

"We should still be continuing with all our health needs, even in these COVID times, and for those with a chronic disease, they still need to have it monitored," she said.

"You also need to go along and have your 715 health assessments done, and to just address any health concerns before they turn into major issues."



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