Health, education, police and community representatives in Western Australia’s Pilbara region have met to discuss how they might collectively tackle some of the region’s most entrenched health and social issues. The Pilbara Collaborative Health Forum, convened by Rural Health West and the WA Primary Health Alliance in November 2016, was initiated to identify the region’s future health workforce needs.
Rural Health West Northwest Regional Advisor, Chris Pickett, said it was quickly identified that many of the region’s key health issues can only be tackled with a more holistic, cross-agency approach.
“We know that many factors can impact upon the health of a person across their lifetime. The Pilbara region has many areas of health disadvantage stemming from a range of factors.
“It’s difficult for one agency, in isolation, to tackle all of the problems in the region, so the forum brought together representatives across the spectrum of human service agencies,” Chris said.
As part of the workshop, participants were asked to identify priority areas where a joint response could help to improve outcomes.
A key example was police requesting input from schools, health providers and child protection agencies to engage with vulnerable children and their families. Similarly, education representatives sought support from child protection, health and housing agencies to implement early intervention programs for children at risk to ensure they have appropriate housing, and access to healthy food and school readiness programs.
A draft proposal relating to how workshop discussions and findings can integrate with existing forums and committees throughout the region will be considered in the near future.
Country WA Primary Health Network Regional Manager, Winny Henry said the Pilbara Health Collaborative Forum identified many intersections between the priority areas of each agency.
“To improve health outcomes for people in the Pilbara we’ve got to address other factors that influence health and vice versa, which is what we’re hoping to initiate through this forum,” Winny said.