Introduction: In Frankston, Victoria, 24% of the Aboriginal population are aged 0 to 8 years. Koori Education Support Officers are not well equipped to link students to the relevant health and support services. School nurses are unable to address the special needs of Aboriginal students. Aboriginal students who do not access health and wellbeing services fall behind in school, become disengaged and are unable to successfully complete their education. Families of students are also at a loss on what action to take and do not know where to seek guidance and help. The ‘Pathways for Healthy Boorais and Families’ program (Program) is a pilot that seeks to address this gap.
Aim: The Program aims to build and strengthen sustainable linkage pathways to health and wellbeing support services for Aboriginal children and youths in Frankston North, to enhance engagement of young Aboriginal people in schools and enable them to live healthy and fulfilling lives.
Cohort: 11 schools (three secondary, seven primary and one special needs), with a total of 146 Aboriginal students (50 secondary, 86 primary, 10 special needs) are participating.
Methodology: Population health principles govern the design, implementation and evaluation of this program. The program aims to reduce health inequities by targeting one of the most vulnerable population groups, addressing cultural and social determinants of Aboriginal health and wellbeing, employing multiple strategies, and working with multiple sectors and community to achieve desired outcomes. The Program links youths to culturally appropriate health and wellbeing services; capacity builds schools to appropriately refer students to required services; collaborates with other Aboriginal initiatives in the region; and regularly consults community to strengthen the Program.
Results: Since inception of the Program in Oct 2015, 12 referrals (age range 9–12) have been made and subsequently linked to Peninsula Health (Koorie Team), ChildFirst, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency, local doctor services, Nairm Marr Djambana Gathering Place, and Homework Club.
Conclusion: The anticipated long-term outcomes from the Program are sustainable health and wellbeing pathways in the Frankston Mornington Peninsula area for young Aboriginal people and narrowing of the health gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Victorians.