Authors: Top End Division of General Practice
Event: 2003 TheMHS Awards
Type of resource: TheMHS Awards
Award state: NT
Award level: Finalist
Award category: Service Partnerships
Abstract: The Top End Division of General Practice supports remote communities to engage, train and support Aboriginal Mental Health Workers to work with clients, GPs and health centres in the provision of primary mental health care. The program provides a “bridge” for GPs and other health professionals to overcome cultural barriers in providing appropriate care, and builds trust among the client base, carers and community members. There has been considerable interest in the model from around the country. Turnover of the Aboriginal Mental Health Workers is very low, which is unusual for health staff in remote communities. This has been attributed to the forging of strong links between the Top End Division, GPs and the community government councils. It is the community, through their councils, who are provided with resources to directly employ the Aboriginal Mental Health Workers. The program is funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, and was developed as a response to a lack of culturally appropriate mental health services in remote areas. Description of Facility/Organisation: The Top End Division of General Practice is an organisation of GPs working across an enormous geographical area, consisting of roughly the top half of the Northern Territory. Its primary funding source is the Commonwealth Government, and it operates on a budget of approximately two million dollars per year. It employs 13 full time staff. It is widely accepted that the greatest need for and difficulty in delivering health services occurs in remote Aboriginal communities. The Division has realised that the most effective way to deliver services with the resources at their disposal is to work more closely with the primary health care team, including Aboriginal Health Workers. This is appreciated within Aboriginal communities, who prefer a wholistic approach to delivering health services. The Division considers that the client base for its GPs comprises the entire population of the area it covers, as well as a considerable number of visitors passing through at any given time.