Thanks to the generosity of the Victorian community, the Wadja Aboriginal Family Place has been providing culturally sensitive and responsive service to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and their families at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) for over 10 years.
The team run regular clinics with both paediatricians and Aboriginal Case Managers to deliver holistic care that incorporates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients’ medical, social, cultural and emotional needs.
Wadja Manager Selena White said the Wadja Health Clinic has played a significant role in delivering the best health outcomes for children and families at the RCH.
“When Wadja commenced in 2009, our paediatricians saw three patients in its first month of service, and this has now significantly grown to between 28 and 38 patients a month,” Selena said.
“Last year our Wadja Case Managers supported more than 300 patients and families with attendance, cultural support and safety throughout clinic consultations.
“Wadja was a new model of care for paediatric health, so it’s great we’ve had such positive feedback from families. Knowing our Koorie community value our service is very rewarding.”
In 2017, the clinic implemented an enhanced model of care for Aboriginal patients who failed to attend outpatient appointments, to identify and address barriers to accessing health services.
“I’m very proud of how the team has worked together to develop our service to improve the overall health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children,” Selena said.
“Together we have built trusting relationships with families, formed partnerships with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, and collaborated with many other RCH teams, including Social Work, Mental Health, and the Education Institute. They are all very much involved in service delivery and care coordination of Aboriginal patients who attend our clinic.”
During the COVID-19 response this year, Wadja clinicians adapted the outpatient service model to offer telehealth to ensure Aboriginal patients and families had ongoing access to the service.
“Many of our families have welcomed consultations via telehealth and we plan to maintain this option where clinically appropriate post COVID-19,” Selena said.
Despite the limitations of COVID-19, the Wadja team has seen an increase in presentations over the past twelve months, providing care to 3,612 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families during the 2019-20 financial year.
Since its establishment, Wadja has significantly enhanced the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients at the RCH.
“Wadja is a leading model of care for indigenous child health, and what the team has achieved over the past 10 years has been fantastic,” Selena said.
“Of course, this is something we want to keep building on, so we’re looking for opportunities to improve the effectiveness of our service and ensure we have a comprehensive approach to meeting the needs of our patients and families.”
“We’re also looking to enhance our physical environment, to reflect the Traditional Owners of the land, and we’re working on strengthening relationships between the RCH and the Aboriginal community by increasing engagement with Aboriginal organisations, Aboriginal Elders and community members.”