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Aboriginal health equality: the Poche Centre’s vision for change

21 September 2016
Children, teeth and hearts prioritised in five-year strategy

The University of Sydney’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health will continue its focus on three high-need areas under its new 2016-2020 Strategic Plan - Healthy Kids. Healthy Teeth. Healthy Hearts.

A photo of an audiometry nurse checking child's ears

The University of Sydney’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health celebrated its new 2016-2020 Strategic Plan Healthy Kids. Healthy Teeth. Healthy Hearts. today, at a launch attended by NSW Minister for Health Jillian Skinner.

The ambitious strategy confirms the Centre’s continued focus on three areas it has identified as ongoing health priorities in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities – paediatrics, dental and cardiology.

The Centre employs an effective four-pronged approach to deliver practical and innovative solutions to these complex health problems:

  • service delivery in partnership with local communities and organisations, including the University of Sydney’s Sydney Medical School and Faculty of Dentistry;
  • clinical training for local Aboriginal people;
  • service learning opportunities for students;
  • applied research to inform health care policy and services.

Growing our impact

A chart showing how Poche intends to grow its impact, with graphs of expenditure and number of services, scholars, Aboriginal staff, community partnerships, and research projects.

Over the next five years this focus and approach will remain, with results to date providing a strong foundation for future progress.

This year alone, the Centre is supporting 157 Aboriginal scholars from Certificate III to PhD, with a 99.24 percent completion rate. It is working in partnership with 27 communities across NSW, QLD, WA and NT, delivering 10,000 health services, and is funding and leading five community research projects.

To grow its impact, the strategy commits the Centre to maintaining the high level of services, further developing productive community partnerships, growing the number of research projects and maintaining a team with a minimum of 50 percent Aboriginal staff.

Importantly, it will also further invest in developing local, qualified and skilled people to drive the delivery of health care services for Aboriginal people. As Poche scholars advance through VET qualifications to complete Bachelor programs and higher degrees in research, service delivery will increasingly be led by local staff providing local health services.

"Ambitious goals for the future"

A photo of NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner speaking at the launch.

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner speaking at the launch.

Minister for Health Jillian Skinner, who launched the strategy at NSW Parliament House, said: “It’s a pleasure to acknowledge the work of the University of Sydney’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, and their ambitious goals for the future.”

The Minister highlighted The Dalang Project – funded by the NSW Government, the Poche Centre and Rotary – which is introducing cooled, filtered water fountains to nine Aboriginal communities across NSW in a bid to tackle a growing dental and obesity crisis. Given easy access to cold, fresh water and refillable bottles, as well as an embedded awareness campaign and teeth-brushing program in schools, people in these communities will be drinking significantly more water than before.

Projects like this help deal with the scourge of sugar-rich drinks and the associated complications for overall health and chronic disease. Its success demonstrates that with innovation we can deliver excellent health care services across the state.
NSW Minister for Health Jillian Skinner

Attending the launch, co-founders Greg Poche AO and Kay Van Norton Poche said: “When we founded the Poche Centre within the University of Sydney, our aim was simple: we wanted to help improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. We’re thrilled with the work of the Centre and all that has been achieved so far – and are excited about what the future holds for those who will benefit from the continued focus on Healthy Kids. Healthy Teeth. Healthy Hearts.”

Director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, Kylie Gwynne, said: “We’re delighted to be launching our new five-year strategy, and are committed to the task ahead. We’re convinced that by partnering with relevant organisations, building skills in the community and sharing the best evidence, health equality can be achieved for all Australians.”

About The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Sydney

A photo of Greg Poche, Reg Richardson, Sally Richardson, Kay Van Norton Poche, Kylie Gwynne.

Greg Poche AO (front left), Reg Richardson AM, Sally Richardson, Kay Van Norton Poche and Kylie Gwynne at the launch. 

The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health was established and funded in 2008 by philanthropists Greg Poche AO, Kay Van Norton Poche and their friend Reg Richardson AM. Since establishing the first Poche Centre at the University of Sydney, a network of centres has been created across the country with different areas of focus, and the Poche’s have gifted more than $50 million to support their work. Professor Tom Calma AO has been Patron of the Poche Indigenous Health Network since 2010.