The North Coast Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health (NCACCH) caters to a huge population of over 4500 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people across an area of about 7000sq km.
Transport and access are key factors in delivering good health services. The health service has developed a unique way of assisting people across this area. NCACCH is an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service and is funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA).
NCACCH delivers services to the Sunshine Coast and Gympie regions and is located at Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and also has an office in Gympie. Due to the challenges associated with providing health care services across such a large area, the NCACCH Brokerage Model was developed.
This unique model allows Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people to obtain free medical services from a NCACCH service provider of their choice, located throughout their service region.
The NCACCH Board of Directors has a strong governance focus which has led the health service to be named as a finalist in the BHP Billiton/Reconciliation Australia Indigenous Governance Awards in 2005 and runner up “Highly Commended” in 2010.
Lorraine Reilly, Data Manager at the NCACCH, says the innovating model focuses on cost-effectiveness, efficiency, professionalism, culturally appropriateness and partnerships. “It is quite a transient population, but when families have been living here for three months they can get a Health Access Card from us and this allows them to visit any one of the 280 GPs on the Sunshine Coast or in Gympie and be bulk-billed,” she says. “This also covers access to allied health professionals in the region such as mental health, podiatry, diabetes education, physiotherapy, nutrition and dental, so if someone presents with a toothache, for instance, they can almost get in immediately to see a dentist rather than being on a long waiting list.”
The service also operates a program called “HealthTrax” which is funded by Queensland Health (QH). It assists community members with chronic conditions such as cardiovascular, respiratory and diabetes by providing access at no cost to specialists and allied health care. Also, every client that registers for the program will have their own personal “Health Advocate” to assist them to reach the goal of self-management.
There is a smoking cessation pilot program funded by DoHA called “No Durri for this Murri” supporting people on their path to quitting and/or reducing the associated harm. As part of this program, the client selects their own Quit Coach as well as free access to treatment including patches, gum, lozenges, medication, counselling, hypnotherapy and acupuncture.
The Nanna Bill’s Mums & Bubs program helps Indigenous mother’s access antenatal care and other health providers and provides support until the baby is one year old with the assistance of their own personal Midwife. The service also runs a Triple P Program parenting course designed to promote positive caring relationships between parents and their children.
For child health, regular ear health screening is available for children aged 4-12 years in schools across the Sunshine Coast and Gympie regions. Otitis Media is one of the leading causes of hearing loss for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children.
NCACCH operations manager Kim Helmore said ear health screening in Sunshine Coast and Gympie primary schools had revealed hearing impairment in 20 per cent of indigenous children. This is funded by Queensland Health. NCACCH Director Tom Cleary says the Board of Directors are very concerned with the issues around hearing loss. “Studies show ear disease can significantly impact language, education, social interactions, psychological health, employment and criminal involvement. We believe it is impossible to Close the Gap on education if the health of children is impaired through hearing loss,” he says.
A Men’s and a Women’s group also runs from the centre. The Women’s Group meets every month alternating between Gympie and the Sunshine Coast and is a great way for women to come along and have a chat and meet other women.
There are usually guest speakers or community or activities such as crafts, fishing, or movie days. For more information about the NCACCH go to http://ncacch.org.au/