Territory Stories






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Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).; This publication contains may contain links to external sites. These external sites may no longer be active.


This publication contains many links to external sites. These external sites may no longer be active.; Includes Health Impact Assessment articles on the Territory




Rural Health Services -- Northern Territory -- Periodicals; Community Health Services -- Northern Territory -- Periodicals

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The National Rural Health Alliance Inc.

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Deakin (A.C.T.)


Number 39

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12 13 Partyline, Number 39, June 2010 C O N TR IBU TED BY A FRIEN D C O N TRIBUTED BY A F RI EN D CHIROPRACTIC Indigenous care programs Dein Vindigni and Matt McLindon make the case for extended public chiropractic services The chiropractic profession in Australia has been dedicated to expanding the availability of accessible, affordable and culturally sensitive chiropractic care as well as multidisciplinary initiatives to improve the health of people in rural and remote communities. In 2005 the Chiropractors Association of Australia CAA formalised this commitment by establishing a Rural and Indigenous Health Group. Almost one third of chiropractors live and work in rural Australian communities providing healthcare almost exclusively in private practice settings. In 1976 the Layton Report concluded that there was an undisputed need for chiropractic services, particularly in socially and financially disadvantaged community settings. Over three decades later, however, the situation has not changed substantially, with the overwhelming majority of chiropractors still working in the private sector. Voluntary chiropractic initiatives have nonetheless continued to make a contribution to the health of rural, remote and Indigenous communities through Hands On Health programs in Victoria, NSW, QLD and WA (see www.handsonhealth.com.au). One such initiative which has been consistently serviced by volunteer chiropractors since 1995 is based at the Durri Aboriginal Medical Service in Kempsey, NSW. Two volunteer chiropractors work at the Durri AMS and the Booroongen Djugun Aged Care facility in Kempsey. The program is subsidised by the Chiropractors Association of Australia (National). In 2000 a musculoskeletal prevalence study was conducted in collaboration with the Durri AMS and the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle. It concluded that the typical profile in this large rural, Indigenous community was of a: middle-aged male or female suffering from at least two musculoskeletal conditions that had been present for more than seven weeks. They had a history of physical trauma related to sporting injuries, car accidents, falls or work-related injuries and a range of lifestyle risk factors including obesity, smoking, prolonged sitting, heavy lifting and psychosocial stress. If they were aware of interventions that might assist in alleviating their chronic pain, they had not sought treatment because of the cost of manual therapies or an attitude of being resigned to enduring pain and ill health. Recommendations arising from this study included the urgent provision of community-based tactile therapies such as chiropractic, massage therapy, osteopathy and physiotherapy as well as health promotion to address the modifiable risk factors associated with these highly prevalent conditions. Preliminary PAR data suggests that the program has been well-received and utilised by the community despite its relative newness as a health discipline in the AMS and Aged Care Centre. A major lesson emerging from working in and evaluating communitybased initiatives of this kind is that staying-power is imperative given the difficulties in establishing trust in communities that have historically been treated poorly by researchers and research initiatives. Chiropractic student, Alice Nguyen, received a scholarship from the Allied Health Clinical Placement Scholarship Scheme (AHCPSS) during her final year at Macquarie University. The scholarship allowed her to undertake a six week placement in a rural/remote community. Alice was welcomed into Kununurra, in northern Western Australia, working with 5th year chiropractic students from Murdoch University and afterwards with the Gumbayngirr community in Bowraville and Nambucca Heads in northern NSW. Alice found the experience extremely fulfilling and, as part of her placement, worked closely with Aboriginal Health Workers and Elders. In these Communities, many people reported chronic musculoskeletal conditions related to decade-old injuries from motor vehicle accidents and other trauma. Although these volunteer initiatives are very well received in their respective communities, they are only reaching the tip of the ice-berg. The government needs to adopt policies which aim to address this high prevalence of pain and impairment through culturally sensitive, community-based programs with demonstrated positive outcomes. Issues relating to spinal awareness and spinal health rarely see the light of day in the health landscape. The government must seriously look at this often neglected area of health and allocate funds to roll-out a nationwide primary school-based Spine Awareness Program, similar to the dental health program. This would help all communities but specifically those in rural and remote regions which have little access to chiropractic services. We have a long road ahead of us - but every long journey begins with the first step! Alice and Uncle bud share stories of Gumbayngirr bush-tucker and traditions. PHOTO: RIHG http://www.handsonhealth.com.au

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain the names, voices and images of people who have died, as well as other culturally sensitive content. Please be aware that some collection items may use outdated phrases or words which reflect the attitude of the creator at the time, and are now considered offensive.

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