GPs win mental health award

WHEATBELT GP Network is the winner of the John Da Silva award for improved outcomes in Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing for this year.

The Mental Health Commission co-ordinates the Good Outcomes Awards as an annual event.

Award: Natasha Passmore, Natasha Stewart, Nay Latt, Carol Deppe, Wendy Kickett, Carl Della and Matthew Birch, awards in hand, outside the Aboriginal
specific general practice at 65 Wellington Street.

Award: Natasha Passmore, Natasha Stewart, Nay Latt, Carol Deppe, Wendy Kickett, Carl Della and Matthew Birch, awards in hand, outside the Aboriginal specific general practice at 65 Wellington Street.

This year's gala awards evening was held on October 7 to coincide with mental health week and saw 160 people in attendance at the University Club of Western Australia.

There were 12 awards announced, but being recognised for commitment to Indigenous mental health is of special significance to the Wheatbelt GP Network.

In 2010, Wheatbelt GP Network opened Wheatbelt General Practice Aboriginal Health.

The practice works in close partnership with Wheatbelt Aboriginal Health Services to deliver culturally appropriate primary health services that meet the needs of Aboriginal people in the Wheatbelt.

There are practices in Northam and Narrogin employing nurses and reception staff. The service is complemented by an Indigenous outreach worker, Indigenous health project officer, care co-ordinator and community re-entry program officer.

Together, these three positions work with general practice and Aboriginal people throughout the Wheatbelt to overcome barriers and facilitate improved communication.

Health education and improved self-management is of particular importance.

The third aspect of the network's commitment to Indigenous primary health, is a counselling (mental health) service.

A clinical psychologist visits Wheatbelt Aboriginal Health Service regularly to counsel patients and streamline the GP referral process.

There has been a significant increase in referrals for counselling in the past year and clients are actively engaging with the psychologist.

The network's success at connecting with patients is largely due to the partnership with Wheatbelt Aboriginal Health Service and in having programs that complement one another to facilitate real health outcomes.

The network's Indigenous health programs are made possible through funding from the Commonwealth Department of Health and are part of the Indigenous chronic disease package indicator under the Closing the Gap initiatives.

Acting chief executive Melissa Deegenaars expressed her gratitude to Wheatbelt GP network staff.

"We are lucky to have quality staff that share the Network's vision of improving the health of Aboriginal people," she said.

"I congratulate the staff on making this award possible and am excited about the future for Indigenous health care in the region."

Aboriginal people seeking primary health care are encouraged to contact Wheatbelt General Practice Aboriginal Health by phone on 9690 2824 or go to wheatbelt.com.au.