Preserving culture, protecting country and its connection to Aboriginal Health

July 1, 2019

The preservation of the Aboriginal culture and its link to health within the community and as individuals is a topic that is perhaps known, but not well understood by the general public.

Aboriginal health is a complex set of factors that should consider not only the physical health and wellbeing of the individual, but the social, emotional and cultural health of the surrounding community. Broader issues like connection to country, traditional knowledge, spiritual connection, social justice, economic safety and spiritual health all play a central part in the health of Aboriginal people as a whole.

So with those factors in mind, how do we protect ourselves? How do we, as the South West Aboriginal community keep ourselves and our families healthy? How do we stay connected to culture, country and keep our bodies healthy? The truth is, these factors are not mutually exclusive. For one to work, you need the other and vice versa.

As a community controlled health organisation, we have been committed to advancing the health and wellbeing of our mob, as a whole from the very beginning. The identity of our Noongar Mob is central to our goals, our vision, our strategies and our day to day operations. As an organisation, we have developed distinctive measures to ensure we don’t lose sight of the reason behind doing what we do.

Of course, this is and forever will be a work in progress. As the needs of our community evolves and changes, so too will our objectives and vision for the future. As the new generation comes up, we need to be there to combat health issues that will face their mob. We need to be there to show them the way, to educate and support them in their journey. In the same respect, as our older generation ages, we need to listen, learn from and respect their knowledge so that our culture and traditions are passed down and protected.

Combining and weaving these needs into an organisation is not an easy task. Health care professionals and organisations should strive to achieve a state in which individuals are able to reach their full potential, where the community is connected and health is the priority. This is why, at SWAMS we have developed programs such as Youth Group and Playgroup where we can facilitate the connection of the younger generation to their culture. We run events and family days where our community can come together socially, connect with one another and understand the huge benefit of simply having a yarn. These programs and events are run in addition to providing clinical health services from our clinic and outreach centres.

Behind the scenes, we ensure that all staff are trained in cultural sensitivity and our history. We actively seek opportunities to further develop our knowledge and facilitate the professional development of our employees. We also actively encourage and assist the community with seeking available training options to further our community member’s education, with the belief that this will benefit them socially and economically, which in turn will improve mental health.

Our employees understand and are consistently reminded through policy that we are here for the whole person, not just their physical being. Our health, our way.

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