The Fitzroy Stars promoting Aboriginal Health in Aboriginal Hands (AHAH).
The Fitzroy Stars was established in The 1970s in Thornbury, initially as a football and subsequently as a netball club for Victorian Aboriginal people.
It has a legacy spanning more than four decades and reaching out to several generations of Indigenous people.
Simon Minton-Conell Assistant Coach and CEO of the Fitzroy Stars reflects on some of the historical moments and challenges that feature in the club’s history.
The Stars notable sporting achievements peaked in the mid seventies when they won several premierships, however, beyond the sporting focus of the club, many members of the Community also see this as a place in which both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people meet on common ground and build relationships of trust and goodwill to promote the social and cultural well-being of the community.
‘Most of our members come from Aboriginal Communities throughout Victoria and beyond’ says Uncle Phil Cooper. ‘The Stars is much more than a club where players gather to enjoy the sport. It’s a place where life-long relationships are forged and players support each other and even mentor Community causes. For example the Stars are involved in a support program for victims of domestic violence and healthy lifestyle programs. ‘In many ways, the Stars are the gateway to our Community’ says Uncle Phil.
It’s been an honour and privilege for the Discipline of Chiropractic, RMIT University and HANDS-ON-HEALTH AUSTRALIA (HoHA) to be invited to help shape this Aboriginal Health in Aboriginal Hands (AHAH) initiative which includes both a chiropractic student outreach clinic and, eventually, a volunteer-run HoHA program.
Student outreach clinic for chiropractic students
In July 2015, The School of Health Sciences and the Discipline of Chiropractic launched a student clinic in collaboration with the Fitzroy Stars. The clinic will operates on a Tuesday afternoon in which Chiropractic students will treat players and members of the Aboriginal Community and be supervised as part of their clinical training.
HoHA has also been invited by Elders to expand the availability of Complementary and Allied Healthcare to broaden the reach of the program in the Community.
A common reflection of Elders is how closely aligned disciplines such as chiropractic are to traditional Aboriginal approaches to healthcare in which Indigenous healers used their hands to heal and the bush to provide their food, fibre and medicine.
Elder, Uncle Paul Gordon, Patron of HoHA reflects that for Aboriginal people the bush was their supermarket, gym, hospital and church. It provided for all of their Community`s needs.
A long term goal of the AHAH program is to provide students with educational and even career pathways to assist their personal and professional growth and to help Close the Gap by addressing the high burden of musculoskeletal illness experienced in Communities.
Further HoHA plans to provide training in Cultural Proficiency for Allied and Complementary Health professionals. Finally, as part of HoHA’s usual practice to evaluate the effectiveness of its programs, it will conduct research that will document and describe the development and delivery of this program including health outcomes of providing care to the Community to help build its sustainability.
The Community have embraced the program and opportunities will exist for involving other Disciplines as the program unfolds. A mobile AHAH clinic is planned to deliver care to rural and remote communities and chiropractors will be invited to participate.
The poor health of Indigenous people has been widely reported yet chiropractic is noticeably absent in the more than 400 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations throughout Australia that function as the principle gateways to healthcare to Aboriginal Australians.
Several Indigenous Elders acknowledge that chiropractors are well placed to provide effective and culturally sensitive inter-disciplinary healthcare for Aboriginal people and the Fitzroy Stars is a small but important step in promoting Aboriginal Health in Aboriginal Hands (AHAH).
You can help by forwarding your expression of interest in volunteering your time as a practitioner and/or clinical supervisor either as part of the student clinic or the AHAH program.
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