A new campaign designed to deliver culturally appropriate care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has been unveiled by Northern Sydney Local Health District.

The Ask the Question animation is a video aimed at encouraging all staff across NSLHD to understand the importance of identification of consumers and clients of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin.

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It’s all a part of the District’s Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol team’s efforts with assistance from the Aboriginal Health Unit to understand the importance of asking the question as it is medically relevant.

NSLHD Clinical Lead for Aboriginal Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Michelle Lawrence led the campaign with the aim of increasing the amount of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people identifying at NSLHD.

“The omission of culture in providing care can leave our people feeling disrespected and without adequate support, which means they are less likely to seek future treatment,” she said.

“Asking the question allows Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples access to a range of specialist services such as Bungee Bidgel, our Aboriginal health clinic at Hornsby, mental health services, or to receive more appropriately tailored care in the hospital environment.

"Trauma informed and person centred care must include knowing your consumer thier cultural background is important to understand what are thier values and beliefs to provide a holistic approach to care,

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are extremely proud of their culture; it's who we are. By not asking we are already breaking down engagement."

The animation, which will be used in staff orientation and training as well as in public areas throughout the district, was produced in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Director of Mental Health Drug and Alcohol for NSLHD Andrea Taylor said she hoped the resource would encourage everyone to ask the question and feel confident in identifying culturally.

“These resources are an inclusive way to remind everyone of the benefits that asking the question can have for people when they present for care,” she said.

“When we include culture in care, it can significantly enhance the healthcare experience and potentially go on to improve healthcare outcomes.”

Director of Aboriginal Health Peter Shine welcomed the new resource as efforts ramp up to encourage people to identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

“Hopefully through this campaign we’ll see a culture change where all staff ask the question, but we also want people to feel empowered to say ‘I am Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander’ if they aren’t asked,” he said.

“The correct identification means not only will they get culturally respectful care but also medically relevant care throughout the district.”

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