Project opens doors to better ear and eye health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids

9 August 2021

First Nations children across South East Queensland will have greater access to timely and culturally safe specialist care for hearing and vision issues, under a new partnership between Children’s Health Queensland and the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health.

The Open Doors project, funded by the Department of Health , will deliver up to 18 dedicated ear, nose and throat (ENT) and eye clinics for up to 540 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people at the Queensland Children’s Hospital over the next three years.

This targeted investment of $480,000 aims to deliver culturally safe elective surgery pathways for First Nations children so they are supported into and out of hospital, which will improve access to vital specialist ENT treatment services and contribute to better long term health and social outcomes.

The project seeks to demonstrates the value of collaborative care between the primary and tertiary healthcare sectors and works to eliminate systemic barriers that can prevent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from receiving timely, high quality specialist care.

Children’s Health Queensland Chief Executive Frank Tracey said the Open Doors project was pioneering a co-designed and co-delivered approach to address the burden of poor ear and eye health in children which can have wide-reaching impacts on their long-term health, education and social engagement.

“Children’s Health Queensland and the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health recognise that optimal care in these areas of high disease burden can only be provided by reducing systemic barriers and delivering a streamlined care pathway that integrates both organisation’s services,” Mr Tracey said.

“These dedicated multidisciplinary weekend clinics support our ongoing commitment to providing the right care, at the right time, in the right way for children, young people and their families.

“This is about culturally safe and supported care that prioritises those with the highest need and delivers care pathways that respond directly to that need.”

Institute for Urban Indigenous Health Chief Executive Officer Adrian Carson said the partnership would see coordinated referrals to Children’s Health Queensland for ENT specialist services through a network of community-controlled health services in South East Queensland.

“This is how we work as one health system to coordinate the care for our children and young people so that they get treatment safely and in time to make a difference to their health and their individual life trajectories,” Mr Carson said.

“We are looking forward to partnering with Children’s Health Queensland to provide care for over 500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in South East Queensland and to model what can be done when we work together.”

The Open Doors project will build on the success of a weekend ENT clinic trialled at the Queensland Children’s Hospital in March, which saw 30 children assessed for a range of ENT conditions (including hearing loss, sleep disordered breathing and tonsillitis), with 22 of them booked in for surgery.

The project is the first initiative to be delivered under a 3-year engagement protocol (service agreement) between Children’s Health Queensland and the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, committing both organisations to work more collaboratively in the pursuit of health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in South East Queensland.

Improving health service design and integration through partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Services is a key element of Children’s Health Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Wellbeing Services Plan 2018-2023.
For more information, see https://bit.ly/chqihwsp

IUIH

ENDS

Media contacts:
Children’s Health Queensland t: +61 7 3068 5111 e: chqnews@health.qld.gov.au
Institute for Urban Indigenous Health t: 0428 792 535 e: Lorraine.Pacey@iuih.org.au