Abstract: Aboriginal cultures have a wealth of strength that provide positive influences in Maternal and Child Health (MCH) and wellbeing, which traditionally inform more holistic views of wellbeing than mainstream Australia. Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service (DYHS) has implemented two new models for MCH care that have empowered health workers to build trust with the client, inform health care choices and build maternal identity, thus strengthening families. Implementation of the models includes the expanded role of an older Aboriginal woman within the team, bridging the gap between practitioners and community, building relationships between families and the service provider. Antenatal care, immunisation rates and pap smear rates have increased significantly as investment in skill base, resources and community involvement have been actively pursued.
It is well recognised that the impact of early physical development greatly influences health factors and outcomes in later life. The MCH care division of DYHS has implemented the ‘Maternal and Child Health Model of Care in the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector’, resulting from statewide collaboration through the Aboriginal Health Council of WA. Within this initiative, the culturally informed, research-based and sensitive holistic health screen, ‘Kalyakool Moort’ (always family), has also been applied.
A crucial need in improving pregnancy, maternal and neonatal outcomes is early and ongoing engagement with the client. Strategic collaboration within the service, commencement of dedicated clinics, events, programs, outreach in community groups and the adoption of an Indigenous specific model of care has resulted in significant improvement of health outcomes and much improved National Key Performance Indicators.