Closing the Gap at Moruya

Team Moruya
19 April 2017

Penni-Lee Boudet, HealthShare NSW’s Food and Patient Support Services (FPSS) Site Manager at Moruya Hospital, had a vision of having the highest percentage of Aboriginal employment in the state in FPSS. She achieved this last year with 25% of her team employed from the local Aboriginal community.

Every Friday, Aboriginal staff wear shirts with an Aboriginal design which shows their pride in their Aboriginal identity and means they are easily recognisable.

“This has been a win-win situation for both patients and staff. Aboriginal patients are more at ease coming into hospital knowing they have members of their community working here. They see a friendly face and feel comfortable talking to our staff about the issues they are facing and we are able to support them to communicate with medical staff,” said Penni-Lee.

“My staff get lots of compliments from wearing their shirts and feel really proud of who they are and what they are doing,” she said.

Shirlena Rutten, Team Leader, Aboriginal Maternal Health Service, Gadhu Family Health Moruya Hospital said “On multiple occasions our department has been approached by concerned Aboriginal FPSS staff advising us of Aboriginal inpatients who have shared with them that they are either too shamed, scared or just not able to communicate culturally with the clinical staff on our wards. As a direct result of this communication breakdown our Aboriginal inpatients are not disclosing their full health issues and are not getting the appropriate assistance they require.

Having Aboriginal staff employed in areas such as cleaning and meal deliveries has had a huge impact on our Aboriginal inpatients as they are disclosing their issues to them. Aboriginal FPSS staff then communicate these matters to our department where we are able to engage our Aboriginal Hospital Liaison officers to attend the patient and provide the advocacy and communication required.”

Aboriginal staff in the Hunter and at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital have also taken up the idea of wearing and Aboriginal-design shirt one day a week with a positive response.

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