Working well 5: Advice for GP Registrars about to start a term at an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service

This resource is part of a series of online 'Working Well' resources designed to assist GP Registrars and other health professionals working in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs).

You will hear stories and perspectives from a range of people with experience of working in Aboriginal Health in one way or another. We hope this will help you in finding your feet as you contemplate working in ACCHSs in the future.

The resource can be used on your own, in a small group or with a Supervisor. Find out more information about how to use this resource or just click the 'Start' button to begin.

See the full list of Working Well resources.

This project has been funded by Northern Territory General Practice Education (NTGPE) with assistance from AMSANT and the Danila Dilba Health Service (DDHS). Many thanks to all the contributors.

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Working well 5: Advice for GP Registrars about to start a term at an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service
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TOPIC A: Get to know the community and patients
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Working Well 1: Differences
Back TOPIC A: Community control
Back TOPIC B: Holistic approach
Back TOPIC C: Cultural safety
Back QUIZ: Check your knowledge
Back SUMMARY: Print or download resources
Working Well 2: The ATSIHP
Back TOPIC A: The role of the ATSIHP
Back TOPIC B: ATSIHP training
Back TOPIC C: Knowledge of community
Back QUIZ: Check your knowledge
Back SUMMARY: Print or download resources
Working Well 3: Challenges
Back TOPIC A: Finding your place within the team
Back TOPIC B: The cross-cultural environment
Back TOPIC C: Addressing complex patient needs
Back TOPIC D: Managing your own expectations
Back QUIZ: Check your knowledge
Back SUMMARY: Print or download resources
Working Well 4: Misunderstandings
Back TOPIC A: Lack of respect
Back TOPIC B: Different levels of knowledge
Back TOPIC C: Resolving misunderstandings
Back QUIZ: Check your knowledge
Back SUMMARY: Print or download resources
Working Well 5: Advice
Back TOPIC A: Get to know the community
Back TOPIC B: Work closely with the team
Back TOPIC C: Manage your own expectations
Back SUMMARY: Print or download resources
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Get to know the community and patients

I'd say to them, you know, go into it with a very open mind, be receptive, but also understand too that the kind of respect, I suppose, that might be afforded you as a Registrar in another sort of health service or practice, will be completely different to that of an Aboriginal health organisation.

Here it’s actually a much flatter sort of structure, it’s not quite so hierarchical and certainly Aboriginal health services absolutely value and put front and centre the Aboriginal Health Practitioners.

It’s actually the collective knowledge and experience of those skills that will provide the best possible health service and the best outcomes for our clients.

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Get to know the community and patients

If you want to know something, ask an Aboriginal staff (member), particularly when you are working in an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service it’s a really important thing to do.

If you want to know about a particular client, or client’s history or their family history, try and find out about what sort of behaviours may or may not be acceptable to Aboriginal people. That’s a really important thing.

If you’ve never really worked with Aboriginal Health Workers before or Aboriginal people or in an Aboriginal Health Service, you may not be aware of the social or cultural conventions, if you like.

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Get to know the community and patients

Most important advice that I would give any GP Registrar starting is to listen and learn. Regardless of any environment you’re in - listen and learn.

Get to know the community, so they get to know who you are. That’s a really big thing. If you feel like you can learn from them, they’ll also feel that they can learn from you, in the health advice that you give, in the things that you’re talking about.

Perception is a big thing I think within a number of communities and families, and first observations play a critical role with how they’re going to perceive you over time as well.

I think that it’s important to get to know your patients, get to know who you’re looking after because I think a trust factor is very critical in the work that you do with us as patients and as community members.

And I think it’s important being a new person, not to be too vocal in the sense of 'Oh so this is what it’s like out in a rural community' and 'How come this person's not coming in, you know, when they need to' and so forth. That sort of perception in a small community is not, not good. And you’ve got to remember, small communities, like small towns, word can spread about what people's perceptions are of you. I think it’s important to listen and learn.

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audio
Olga Havnen
CEO DDHS
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Maida Stewart
ATSIHP
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Erin Lew Fatt
Deputy Chairperson, DDHS
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