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A passionate Indigenous health worker from Queensland and a WA antenatal program took out coveted health awards at the 18th annual Deadlys at the Sydney Opera House on 25 September 2012.
This year's Deadly Award for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker of the Year was won by John Corowa. Corowa is Regional Manager for Indigenous Health at Wide Bay Medicare Local in Queensland. He is responsible for implementing Wide Bay's 'Tackling smoking', 'Healthy lifestyles' and 'Closing the gap' programs. The Deadly Award acknowledges the outstanding work Corowa has achieved in the 14 months he has been in the role.
Corowa and his staff organise community health promotions and activities to tackle smoking and promote healthy lifestyles. These activities include cultural healing days, the Deadly Choices Touch Carnival, women's health information nights and an event called the 'Murri Factor' to showcase new talent in music.
Prior to working at Wide Bay Medicare Local, Corowa worked in Queensland Health for 10 years, starting his journey as a Hospital Liaison Officer at Logan Hospital.
'My motivations are very simple,' said Corowa. 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are still dying 10 to 17 years younger than other Australians. I am driven to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous life expectancy.'
John's passion for taking positive action is inspired by the success stories he sees across the Wide Bay.
'I have heard first hand from two people who have given up smoking, one a long term smoker of 30 years, and from some other people who are reducing their intake of smoking cigarettes, which is very rewarding to hear.'
Meanwhile, the Deadly Award for Outstanding Achievement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health went to the Boodjari Yorgas Family Care Program from Perth.
Boodjari Yorgas is a Noongar name meaning 'pregnant women'. This service strives to improve the quality of pregnancy care for Aboriginal families using local maternity services. It was established as an antenatal clinic in 2007, and more recently expanded to include a family care program. In its first four years, the clinic has assisted many Aboriginal babies to a safe arrival.
After a child is born, the program continues to help and support the new mother in a culturally sensitive way, by providing advice and practical help. Practical help includes transport to and from the clinic, and linking in with other local services an agencies.
An extremely important part of the Boodjari Yorgas ethos is to deliver assistance from a cultural perspective of pregnancy and antenatal care, approaching it as a natural process rather than a medical program. Prior to the Clinic's establishment, there was no other service of its kind in the Perth metropolitan area. The clinic is delivered from Armadale Hospital antenatal clinic.
Source: Vibe Australia; Medicare Local Wide Bay
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