Katungul Aboriginal Medical Service going strong after recent awards

Katungul Aboriginal Medical Service says it is going from strength to strength, getting more and more healthy outcomes for the Koori community.

Morale was boosted even further by recent Eurobodalla business and NAIDOC awards, and now the service is being recognised as a shining light in the arena of Aboriginal community health and closing the gap. 

Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Community and Medical Services was awarded the prestigious Excellence in Business Award at this month’s Eurobodalla Business Awards night, where the service also picked up the People’s Choice Award for the Narooma area.

And then only one month ago, Katungul received the Excellence Award at the Eurobodalla NAIDOC Awards night held in Narooma.

Katungul chief executive officer Rob Skeen said the awards had definitely been a huge boost for staff, particularly receiving the peer-to-peer recognition of both the people’s choice and NAIDOC awards.

“It’s important to all our staff, because even though we work for the organisation, we are still community members and part of the wider family,” Mr Skeen said.

“All our staff have a strong investment in not only seeing Katungul succeed, but because of our long community and family history, we also have those ties with the community, so it’s not only about what’s happening now but also building a strong base for future generations.”

“Those historical family and cultural ties reflects our ‘Koori health in Koori hands’ philosophy.”

Since taking over as CEO last year, Mr Skeen has seen the number of employees grow from 30 to 56 and the health service was getting recognition for its accomplishments from a range of other services and government entities.

Katungul Aboriginal Medical Service now services the entire Far South Coast from Eden to Ulladulla with offices in Bega, Narooma and Batemans Bay, as well as recent moves to service areas west of the ACT.

Only last week, representatives from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet had a lengthy meeting at the service’s Narooma office to find out why the service’s reporting system was so good, and Katungul has been recognised one of the four most accountable Aboriginal organisations in Australia.

“They were impressed and had plenty of questions to ask about how we were meeting our key performance indicators,” Mr Skeen said. “It was a good opportunity for us to reinforce that it’s not just about the numbers but also the narrative and story behind our accomplishments that are equally as important.”

So for example, the work being done by the young outreach workers Sean Kinchela and Dean Heycox in the eyes and ear screening program, who in recent months had screened more than 450 primary school and kindergarten students from Bermagui to Batemans Bay, checking for conditions such as otitis media.

Their work had been so successful, the pair was next week scheduled to give a presentation to the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council as a best-practice model on health screening for other Aboriginal medical services in NSW.

Other Katungal success stories include the mobile dental van that now was visiting schools and communities all along the Far South Coast thanks to the support of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health in the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Sydney. Click here for related story

The dental hygienist supplied by the Poche Centre now had a dental assistant and local Koori trainee working with her for all the school visits in the Bega and Eurobodalla shires. 

Mr Skeen said Katungul was also implementing a new holistic approach to medical care that took into account both physical and mental health.

“Because you can’t make healthy decisions about your body without having a healthy mind,” he said.

A new strategic plan for the health service was also being finalised and would begin to be implemented across all its offices and programs in October, he said.

Katungul was working on building partnerships with the three other Aboriginal medical services in Nowra and the Illawarra, and also the Oolong House residential alcohol and drug treatment facility.

“One of the proudest accomplishments for me so far was getting word that the number of emergency room admissions for our Aboriginal people had dropped significantly, which to me means we are making a difference when it comes to preventative medicine and keeping Koori health in Koori hands,” Mr Skeen said.

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