An Aboriginal men’s group in Airds, NSW, is helping to improve men’s health by making the local health services more accessible.
By holding regular lunch meetings at the local Indigenous health service, the Tharawal Aboriginal men’s group is making it easier for men to get essential health checkups and help close the health gap between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous men, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Run by the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, the Aboriginal Medical Service combines mainstream healthcare with a broader range of services that address some of the social factors that shape our lives.
Services like legal aid and Centrelink visit the centre and the “Good Tucker All Round” program makes boxes of fruit and vegetables available for $20. There’s a community kitchen, dance and exercise classes, holiday programs for children, drug and alcohol programs and mental health services supported by both a male and female mental health worker.
But it’s the informal opportunities for community engagement that is one of the keys to breaking down barriers to access for both men and women. According to the Sydney Morning Herald report, by hosting sessions like yarning circles and the cultural sewing group, the centre has made it easier for women to access help.
Similarly, offering health checks to attendees of the regular men’s groups, helped identify some serious medical issues such as bowel cancer and high blood pressure.
There’s also a strong focus on giving boys and girls a healthier start through childhood immunisation, which the centre claims is 20 per cent to 40 per cent higher than other Indigenous children and higher than in many non-Indigenous communities.
According to one community member, Ivan Wellington, the centre has transformed from the “depths of darkness and despair ... to a beautiful place of healing and health”.
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FIND OUT MORE: The Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation