Fond farewell for Strong Family Strong Culture
After ten years supporting Aboriginal maternal and child health
in Western Australia, there will be a fond farewell for Strong
Family, Strong Culture (SFSC) caregivers at the end of June, when
the program transfers its remaining clients to other service
Since 2008 there has been a significant increase in funding to
Aboriginal and maternal and child health from national and state
governments, meaning that other agencies are now delivering many of
the services provided by SFSC.
This has enabled a change of focus for Aboriginal health
services provided by St John of God Social Outreach and Advocacy,
specifically a greater commitment to the perinatal and infant
mental health of Aboriginal people.
“When SFSC was started in 2003, there was a lack of funding in
this area so there was a significant need for the program,” said
Anne Russell-Brown, Group Director of Social Outreach and Advocacy.
“However, since 2008, through the COAG Closing the Gap agreement
there has been significant growth in similar services in the
regions where SFSC has been operating.
“This is a very welcome and much needed investment from
government but our Social Outreach and Advocacy services
have a core principle that we should address areas of unmet need in
the community. With regard to Aboriginal maternal and child health,
that gap in service provision has been closing and therefore we
feel that we should re-focus our resources in areas where our
expertise can continue to make a positive impact.”
“Withdrawing from SFSC is not something we have taken lightly
and we have certainly made the decision with a heavy heart,” Ms
Russell-Brown stressed. “We’ve worked closely with the valued
caregivers who will be leaving us to make sure they are well
equipped to secure meaningful future employment. These women have
made an outstanding contribution to their local communities and the
health of Aboriginal families in regional WA and we are very
grateful for their dedicated service.”
Strong Family Strong Culture caregivers were farewelled by the
Social Outreach and Advocacy team in Perth recently and were joined
by two men instrumental in establishing the service. Kevin Cox,
former St John of God Health Care Aboriginal Health Manager and Kim
Snowball, formerly Group Director for Social Outreach and Advocacy
and more recently WA Director General of Health. Both paid tribute
to the departing caregivers.
“At the time when we started Strong Family, Strong Culture there
were very few programs that focused on maternal health and the
birth weights of babies in Aboriginal communities,” Mr Snowball
said. “Strong Family Strong Culture was different in that it
recognised the cultural and community aspects of Aboriginal people
and targeted factors like nutrition and smoking cessation, building
on a model established in the Northern Territory.
“The women who have worked in Strong Family, Strong Culture
since it started should be very proud of what they have achieved
because they’ve made a real difference in Aboriginal maternal and
child health in WA.”
Social Outreach and Advocacy Services has identified
the perinatal and infant mental health of Aboriginal
families as an area of significant unmet need, and is providing
free training workshops for health professionals to address this
need - find out more.