A partnership to improve the health of indigenous communities across the Kimberley has been boosted today with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the State Government and the Unity of First People of Australia (UFPA).
Health Minister Dr Kim Hames visited Derby today to sign the MOU and to provide the UFPA with $500,000 per annum for four years to expand the not-for profit organisation’s “A Roadmap Towards Better Health Program”. The new funding arrangements almost double the amount previously provided to the organisation.
“The agreement cements the relationship between the WA Country Health Service (WACHS) and the UFPA which have been working together to tackle indigenous health issues in the Kimberley, particularly in relation to diabetes programs,” Dr Hames said
“Both WACHS and the UFPA have made improving Aboriginal health a priority.
“A Roadmap Towards Better Health Program is a holistic wellness program, which focuses on the promotion of healthy behaviours and lifestyle choices to decrease rates of chronic disease among Aboriginal people.”
Dr Hames said the program would build on the existing mobile diabetes management and care program already offered to several indigenous communities in the Kimberley by incorporating a range of activities aimed at promoting lifestyle changes.
“These include regular health assessments such as eye checks; improved access to primary health care, including dental services; ante-natal education; cooking classes and nutrition programs such as the School Breakfast program run in collaboration with Foodbank; and the Community Store program which increases healthy food options,” he said.
“There will be an emphasis on exercise and sport programs with high profile footballers, basketball players and other athletes taking part in school and community activities. In addition, support will be available under the Happy Family Project to work with communities to promote emotional and social well-being of individuals and families.”
The Minister said the additional State Government funding meant the program would reach more indigenous communities across the Kimberley.
“Significantly, it means that these communities now have additional opportunities to take on the responsibility for their state of health by making healthy lifestyle changes, with the support of health professionals,” he said.
“Closing the gap on health inequalities between indigenous and non-indigenous people is a goal for all Australians.”
UFPA President Ernie Bridge said the new agreement represented an important milestone in the partnership between his organisation and the State Government.
“The program represents a collaborative effort with the UFPA, WACHS, local providers and others, working in partnership to improve the prevention, control and management of lifestyle-related diseases for Aboriginal people living in these communities,” Mr Bridge said.
“It is a huge step forward in bringing key health professionals and indigenous communities together to work in partnership to make the lifestyle changes necessary to improve their health.
“I look forward to strengthening the working partnership between the UFPA and WACHS over the next four years and beyond.”