Why Aboriginal health is a priority in our region

Western Sydney has one of the largest urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations in the nation, and improving Aboriginal health is a health priority for our region. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are nearly twice as likely as non-Indigenous Australians to commit suicide, and Aboriginal people in Western Sydney are more than two times at risk of diabetes.

After facing years of discrimination, many Indigenous Australians are wary of trusting health services, preventing them from accessing the care they need. General practices must take an active approach and build respectful environments for Aboriginal patients with culturally appropriate strategies for monitoring and managing health conditions.


What can my practice do to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients?
How can WentWest’s Aboriginal Health Team help your practice?

WentWest’s Aboriginal Health Cultural Liaison Coordinator has been providing cultural training and support to GPs since 2011. Affectionately known by her family as the ‘Storyteller’, Rita McKenzie listens to the needs of the community and its service providers to ensure that through collective action, more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have access to equitable, respectful care. Rita supports the primary sector through:

  • Facilitation of in-depth Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Trainings tailored to primary care
  • Referral support to other Aboriginal services and organisations
  • Registration advice to increase the number of Aboriginal patients
  • Resource and collateral development
  • Multi-sector partnerships to build cohesive care plans for Aboriginal community members across sectors
  • Engagement with community members during health education days to empower them to seek medical treatment and manage their health conditions

If your practice has inquiries about Aboriginal health resources or trainings, contact Rita McKenzie: rita.mckenzie@wentwest.com.au.

Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training  

Our Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training is designed to help general practices, specialists, and allied health professionals develop a cultural understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples health needs. It provides insight into cross-cultural best practices when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, organisations and communities in a health context.

Register for the next online Cultural Awareness Training webinar on 24 August.

Connecting to Aboriginal Health services in your area

Marrin Weejali – an Aboriginal community organisation providing culturally safe alcohol, other drug and non-acute mental health counselling, referral and advocacy services

Integrated Team Care (ITC) Program – a program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with chronic health conditions offering multidisciplinary care coordination and self-management support

The Shed – a male-focused, safe environment for sharing stories that connects people to mental health services, Centrelink, housing, legal and therapeutic services

Baabayn Aboriginal Corporation – a community service that helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people heal from trauma, develop self-esteem and reconnect to their community

This week, as we reflect on this year’s theme for NAIDOC week, ‘heal country’, we need to remember that improving Aboriginal health begins with healing our community.

NB: Due to the current COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, many NAIDOC events have been postponed, and details of the new dates will be shared when available.