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Closing the Gap in Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula

Peninsula Health staff and volunteers including Chris Kirkpatrick (third from left) and Helen Bnads (third from right) on Close the Gap Day.

Peninsula Health is committed to helping close the gap in Indigenous health outcomes and is working with the local community to promote the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people.

One example of this is the Koolin Liang Oral Health Project. As part of the project, Peninsula Health conducts outreach dental clinics for Aboriginal people.

“Many Aboriginal people have good dental health, however on average compared to the non-Aboriginal population, Aboriginal children have twice the level of tooth decay, with greater levels of untreated disease,” explained Peninsula Health’s Chris Kirkpatrick who facilitates the project.

“Aboriginal adults have twice the amount of untreated dental tooth decay and higher rates of gum disease.”

Decay is preventable and, in the early stages, reversible explained Chris. Over the past two years the project has successfully promoted oral health and improved access to community dental services in the local Aboriginal community.

“More than 60% of Peninsula Health dental staff have now undergone cultural safety training. It has also been important to develop the relationship between Peninsula Health community dental services and Aboriginal organisations,” said Chris.

There have also been a number of other projects run at Peninsula Health over the past year to help close the gap.

Our achievements in 2015-16 include:

  • We have developed a Reconciliation Action Plan and over 100 staff have participated in cultural awareness training.
  • Our Aboriginal Health Liaison Officers connected with 1,306 Aboriginal patients in 2015/16.
  • In 2015/16, 47 women gave birth to Aboriginal babies at Peninsula Health. Each mother was supported by our trained staff during their pregnancy through programs such as Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies and Healthy Start to Life.
  • We have developed partnerships with local gathering places, which enabled us to provide health education and screening in key areas such as dental services to Aboriginal people in environments where they feel safe and more comfortable to access services.
  • We have also developed an Aboriginal Employment Plan. We have provided two Aboriginal traineeships: one has now graduated and is working in our dental program.
  • Each year, we celebrate key events on the Aboriginal calendar such as Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week. During Reconciliation Week, Koolin Balit Coordinator Helen Bnads will be hosting Reconciliation Tours of Aboriginal organisations around Frankston and Mornington Peninsula and during NAIDOC Week there will be a flag raising.