As a priority for Aboriginal women, in the context of worsening Aboriginal health and lack of clarity about successful strategies to address healthcare needs, this research explored successful strategies in remote Aboriginal women’s health that may be transferable to another community with similar health needs.
Against a background of cultural and historical events, the study sought to identify existing strategies and frameworks for Aboriginal women’s health. It uses Naturalistic Inquiry situated within the Interpretive paradigm and conceptualised within the philosophical approach of feminist and critical social theory It has examined Aboriginal health providers’ and women’s priorities, practices, perceptions and expectations within the context of primary health care and community development principles by Participatory Action Research (PAR).
The successful elements of an established and effective Aboriginal Well Women’s Health (AWWH) program from Central Australia (CA) were identified, transferred and adapted to meet the needs of a willing recipient remote community in South Australia (SA). Working together with healthcare providers from CA and SA, the adapted Well Women’s Health program was implemented in an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service collaboratively with local mainstream Community Women’s health services and evaluated.
Over a two year period, the research was evaluated through Critical Social Theory examining both the process of implementation and the impact on the Aboriginal community, analysing both qualitative and quantitative data. The AWWH program model and its principles were successfully transferred, adapted and implemented in this community. The AWWH program which included comprehensive health screening, health information and lifestyle sessions have become core business of the Aboriginal health service and an Aboriginal Men’s Well Health program has also been established using the same model.
The women have found the AWWH program culturally acceptable and their attendance has steadily increased and the program has reached those women in the community who previously had never experienced a well health check. It has also identified an extremely high incidence and comorbidity of acute illness and chronic disease in diabetes, renal and dental disease, mental and social health problems that require address.
Health programs that are well established and effective can be successfully replicated, transferred and adapted to other communities if the elements that made them successful are acknowledged and those principles are then transferred with the program to a willing community with similar needs. This program transfer has potential to save much time and developmental costs that will help to address poor Aboriginal health.