Close the Gap indigenous health expo at Goondiwindi hospital

Goondiwindi hospital administration officer, Shaz Pomfret and advanced indigenous health worker, Karen Johnson, are looking forward to welcoming guests to the Close the Gap Day indigenous health expo.

Goondiwindi hospital administration officer, Shaz Pomfret and advanced indigenous health worker, Karen Johnson, are looking forward to welcoming guests to the Close the Gap Day indigenous health expo.

Goondiwindi hospital will open its doors to host a Close the Gap Day indigenous health expo on Thursday.

Director of nursing, Lorraine McMurtrie, said all community members were invited to go along to see what health services they could access.

"Indigenous health equality is a major focus at Goondiwindi hospital," she said. "We work closely with health teams in northern NSW to provide healthcare support to the Toomelah community as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the Queensland side of the border."

Ms McMurtrie said it was important to show the local health teams provided culturally-appropriate care in a safe environment. "Often when people need to come to hospital it's at a stressful time when they or a loved one is unwell or injured. Having this expo means people can come and see what healthcare services we offer in a more relaxed and friendly way.

"We will also be officially opening the first stage of the Yarning Circle, a project we're very excited about."

Advanced indigenous health worker, Karen Johnson, explained through consultation with the hospital Indigenous Advisory Working Party, they had put in place the Yarning Circle as a space for all to use, including hospital staff. "The Yarning Circle will be a place to gather, share stories, knowledge and culture, in a caring and respectful environment," Ms Johnson said. "As this health expo is a whole of Darling Downs Health event, it is wonderful to see we have stallholders willing to travel some considerable distances to be a part of the day and see the opening of the Yarning Circle."

Darling Downs Health director indigenous health, Rica Lacey, said 'Close the Gap' events were held annually across different communities within the service region. "They are attended by members of the Darling Downs Health board and executive team to further support their commitment to the Closing the Gap campaign," Ms Lacey said." In 2016, a pledge was signed to Close the Gap, updating and re-signing it last year to show their continued focus in this important area."

The stalls will be open from 11.30am until 2.30pm, with an official opening to start at noon, in the hospital grounds. The best entrance to use is Bowen Street next to the bowls club. A free barbecue lunch will be available.

Indigenous health expo partner organisations expected to have stalls at the event include Goolburri Aboriginal Health Advancement, Goondir St George, Care Goondiwindi, Community Health, Drug Arm Australasia, Australian Red Cross, Breakaway Toowoomba, Carbal Medical Services, Eurah Indigenous Organics, Carers QLD, Human Services, Kulila Indigenous Kindergarten, Goondiwindi Regional Library, Oral Health, PEPA Program, Darling Downs Public Health Unit, Shaz's Face Painting, Sunrise Way, Rhealth, NDIS Partner in the Community (Carers Qld), Wildlife Empire animals, emergency services, UnitingCare Community Early Childhood Early Intervention, and the Meditrans Service.