Authors: Carmela Connor and Fran McGrath , WA
Event: 2009 TheMHS Conference
Subject: ,INDIGENOUS,RURAL, REMOTE, Service challenges, Kimberley region, ABORIGINAL
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: Huntington’s disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative genetic condition characterised by psychiatric disturbance, chorea and dementia. Since 1991 the statewide Neurosciences Unit (NSU) has provided services to hundreds of adults in WA with a confirmed diagnosis of HD, and those that are asymptomatic, but gene carriers. More recently, there has been a requirement to work with symptomatic Indigenous families in rural and remote communities in the Kimberley region (Panegyres & McGrath, 2008). Currently, the impact of HD on Indigenous Australians is poorly understood, although we are aware of a growing number of families at risk of HD and in need of urgent predictive (genetic) counseling and appropriate diagnosis / management. HD in WA will potentially have a significant impact on Indigenous Australians as was the case with the ‘Point McLeay Aborigines’ in South Australia who were decimated by this condition (Gale & Bennett, 1969). This paper aims to highlight the potential complex medical, family and social implications that will present a unique challenge to Mental Health Services, as well necessitating the fostering of potential partnerships.