Southern NSW Local Health District and NSW Health Infrastructure are inviting Eurobodalla residents to have their say on making the planned Eurobodalla hospital a safe and welcoming space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
This comes at a time when the State’s New Chief Cancer Officer, Professor Tracey O’Brien, is visiting Southern NSW Local Health District.
Professor O’Brien said of her visit “NSW is recognised as a global leader in cancer care, with survival rates among the best in the world, but there is still much more we can do to lessen the impact of cancer,”
“However, cancer continues to impact too many people in our community with one in two people across NSW diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.
“There are also communities that continue to experience poorer cancer outcomes, including Aboriginal communities, people living in regional rural and remote NSW and multicultural communities. Working closely with these communities to ensure equitable cancer outcomes is a priority of our state’s new Cancer Plan.
NOTE: The NSW Government professes "While cancer survival for Aboriginal people continues to improve, there is still a disproportionate gap in cancer outcomes. Closing the gap in cancer outcomes for Aboriginal communities is a key priority of the NSW Cancer Plan".
"Aboriginal people are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer, are likely to be younger when they are diagnosed and are more likely to die of cancer than non-Aboriginal people".
Professor O’Brien says “In the Southern NSW Local Health District, it is projected that this year alone, 1,629 people will be told they have cancer, and 530 people will lose their lives to the disease. Part of the Institute’s work is supporting local health districts to deliver effective, efficient, affordable cancer treatments". That being the case it remains a quandary that the NSW Government continues to refuse to pay respect to the continued call by South East residents to make good on the Federal Government's $8 million grant that is specifically allocated to a South East radiotherapy facility to be located in the new regional hospital. Whilst it is appreciated that our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders locals might appreciate hearing from the architects, inspecting the hospital blueprint plans and providing feedback on the designs, the elephant in the room will remain;
"Where the bloody hell is our radiotherapy facility? We are no different to anyone else and also have to travel considerable distance, at considerable cost to family, to access radiotherapy services."
The NSW Government state as part of their Cancer Plan:
The reason for inequities in cancer outcomes for Aboriginal people are multiple and complex.
Fear and capacity issues around leaving community or country for treatment and lack of culturally safe and responsive care are also major barriers for Aboriginal people to access health services.
Fear and stigma about cancer, due to a lack of understanding about the disease, can prevent Aboriginal people from participating in cancer screening or having symptoms checked. This can lead to later diagnosis causing poorer outcomes.
Aboriginal people and communities are also often dealing with complex personal and familial issues and lower levels of health literacy, which impact their health seeking behaviours.
These barriers can also contribute to higher prevalence of certain lifestyle behaviours, such as tobacco use and alcohol consumption which can contribute towards higher cancer incidence.
Above: some of the data that should be on the table when it comes to considering the health needs of our local Aboriginal community. This is NSW and Census data that shows due cause to consider the need for a South East radiotherapy facility. Now it is time for the Minister for Health to show their "data" that tells them such a facility is not needed.
It will be interesting to see the response to the 5000 plus signature petition handed to the Health Minister (and duck shoved to a lesser Minister for response). That response is due on November 15th, 2022.
In regards to petitions, the original petition that resulted in the NSW Government recognising the need, and the commitment to a new regional hospital in Eurobodalla also had a second component being the immediate improvement in the provision of hospital Emergency treatment.
Now, a full five years after the recommendation that such improvements be made the temporary pop-up facility at Moruya hospital remains unopened. It is understood that the building contains unopened boxes of equipment and that applications for the required 12 staff to operate the facility will require at least 6 months to be processed by the NSW Health HR section.
Meanwhile the NSW State Government and Southern NSW Local Health District and NSW Health Infrastructure refuse to recognise the demand for the radiotherapy facility in the South East saying they 'have the data' to indicate the numbers don't warrant the installation of the facility.
The data they profess to have has not been sighted and the continuing bungle and failures around the handling of the Federal government's commitment of $8 million for the facility is both embarrassing and bloody minded.
Hopefully, during the proposed three sessions, proposed to see inclusion of our local Aboriginal community, the Southern NSW Local Health District and NSW Health Infrastructure personnel will be reminded that the South East has a high percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander who are no different to the rest of the community when it comes to requiring radio therapy treatments.
While they are at it they might like to ask the local Aboriginal community for their suggestions on an alternate cultural name for both the Eurobodalla and Bega regional hospitals.
Of interest is that Mid North Coast LHD has introduced culturally appropriate identification badges for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff so that you can easily recognise staff who’ve identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.
The three sessions are:
Batemans Bay: November 10 from 11am to 1pm, including lunch at the SEARMS Community Hall
Moruya: November 10 from 3 to 5pm, including refreshments at Moruya Golf Club
Narooma: November 11 from 10am to 12pm, including refreshments at Narooma Golf Club
If you are planning on going you might like to RSVP to assist the catering by emailing email@example.com