CQ indigenous health service strives to 'close the gap'
THE 10th anniversary of Sorry Day may have come and gone but the effects of the monumental day for Aboriginal Australians are still felt far and wide.
When Darumbal and Torres Strait Islander elders gathered last week to commemorate the day, a distinct call for more focus on health care was heard throughout the group.
A Rockhampton and Central Queensland community that has provided primary health care to Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders for the past 23 years is urging locals to come forward and seek out assistance.
"The Bidgerdii Community Health Services is what we call an Aboriginal community controlled health organisation,” said Chief Executive Officer Thelap Ahmat.
"We're funded by the Federal Government to deliver holistic comprehensive primary health care.”
Mr Ahmat said Bidgerdii utilises a program called Social and Emotional Wellbeing, funded by the Australian government.
The program itself looks at "family unification”.
"We work very close with Link Up Queensland to bring families from the stolen generation to find who they belong to, where family members are and hopefully unify them,” Mr Ahmat said.
"It's about getting the families to open up so they can trace their histories.
"A lot of the stories coming forward right now are elders who've been locked away for many years.
"It's trying to encourage them to come forward but also protecting those memories and the possible trauma for remembering those bad times.”
Mr Ahmat said Bidgerdii currently offers services to support aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders "through counselling and physical services”.
"People can work through some issues in respect of the struggles they might be going through,” Mr Ahmat said.
"If it leads onto other traumatic events that need special services, we can refer them directly to physical services that Bidgerdii accommodates here in our clinic.”
When Bidgerdii was established, it focused on "substance abuse, social emotional wellbeing, mental health illnesses and services that weren't available over 23 years ago”.
"Bidgerdii is still at the forefront of delivering all those services today,” Mr Ahmat said.
"The Federal Government has a strategy through its indigenous health program that delivers specific Closing The Gap initiatives when it comes to health.
"That's the access and equity for aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander people to feel free to engage with our staff and doctors so they can start advocating for their own health in order to close the gap.”