Indigenous Australians have a life expectancy approximately twenty years less than that of other Australians, placing their health statistics below developing countries such as Nigeria, Nepal and Bangladesh. In 2005, after traveling to Africa and also experiencing the issues facing Indigenous Australians after running a health project in Arnhem Land, the Hands of Help Committee decided the need for improved health care lay not just overseas, but here in our own backyard.
Given the lack of exposure medical students receive in Indigenous Health issues in the GMP, Hands of Help, with generous funding from The University of Sydney Medical Faculty, founded the Hands of Help Indigenous Project in 2006. The aim was to give medical students the opportunity to work with local Aboriginal Medical Services to equip them with the skills required to work in complex, exciting area of Indigenous health and enhance their understanding of the myriad of issues facing Indigenous Australians.
The project initially began in Broken Hill and surrounding Indigenous communities, where bi-annual trips are now run each year. Then, in 2007, the project was expanded to include Indigenous communities in Northern Rivers area of NSW.
In 2007, the Hands of Help Indigenous Project was recognised as a Finalist in the NSW Aboriginal Health Awards - a fantastic achievement recognising the importance of the Hands of Help Indigenous project in educating medical students in Aboriginal Health.
To ensure the long-term sustainability of this project, Hands of Help is now working with the Faculty of Medicine to transfer management and leadership of this project under their guidance. This way, the project will be able to continue long after those who established it have graduated.
For more information, please contact: Sarah Lally or Sophie Kerle