QAS drives greater cultural safety in community

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services The Honourable Yvette D'Ath

The Queensland Ambulance Service has appointed a team of leaders to build on the organisation’s cultural capability and advance health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and they’re doing it in style.

The organisation’s recently established Cultural Safety Unit has appointed three new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Safety Support Officers (CSSOs) and two new Senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Safety Advisors.

Health and Ambulance Services Minister Yvette D’Ath, who had the chance to meet several members of the team today, said it was vital for the Queensland Ambulance Service to embrace diversity in its ranks.

“The QAS is really leading the way when it comes to Indigenous relations within the service and community,” she said.

“We’ve seen first-hand, with initiatives like the QAS Indigenous Paramedic Program, what a difference it makes to health outcomes when First Nations people are on the front line in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities”.

QAS Deputy Commissioner Operations North, Rural and Remote Kari Arbouin said three officers have been appointed to the inaugural CSSO positions and will be operating within their own areas, including North Queensland, Central Queensland and South Queensland.

“Our CSSOs will also be out and about playing their part in improving health equity and foster better engagement across all Queensland communities.”

“As QAS continues to develop a more culturally responsive and inclusive workplace, our new team will be working to support our workforce to become more culturally aware and safe.”

New North Queensland CSSO Claine Underwood said he was looking forward to being able to play a supporting role with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues, as well as working more broadly within the organisation to guide and educate staff about cultural awareness and safety.

“Our frontliners are some of the most trusted professionals around the state and growing that trust within our communities is something I’m passionate about,” Claine said.

“I’m keen to ensure we have cultural understanding and awareness when we’re working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues and patients to ensure they feel safe in our workplaces and in our care.”

The new centrally based Senior Advisors, Angela Perry and Mindy Thomas, will provide guidance, advice and support to help direct the organisation to improve health equity.

Ms Perry has connection to the Yiman people (Taroom) and Ms Thomas is a proud Birri Gubba (Townsville – Sarina – Mackay area) and Gungalu woman (Theodore area).

“Along with these extra resources, the QAS has started rolling out its own Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artwork, to represent cultural understanding and awareness to community,” DC Arbouin said.

One of the first initiatives to come out of the Cultural Safety Unit was the creation of QAS’s very own Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artwork Caring for our mob together, a collaboration between Brisbane-based designer Keisha Thomason, a proud Waanyi and Kalkadoon woman from Mount Isa and QAS staff.

It is this very design which will be slowly rolled out on vehicles servicing Queensland’s communities to flag our recognition of cultural safety and awareness.

“Our team will be easily identifiable as they drive around their districts –vehicles wrapped in QAS’s very own Aboriginal artwork, Caring for our mob together,” DC Arbouin said.

“We see this as an important symbol to community that we want them to feel safe in our care and we recognise cultural awareness and understanding is immensely important to our community and staff”.

Meet the new CSSO (frontline) team members:

  • Ydinji (Cairns area) man and long-time Yarrabah local and paramedic Claine Underwood, who will take on the Torres and Cape York, Cairns and Hinterland and North West Districts.
  • Townsville-based Bwgcolman (Palm Island) and Kuku Yalanji (Mossman and Daintree) woman and paramedic Gemma Armit, who will support the Townsville, Mackay, Central Qld and Central West districts.
  • Muruwari and Yuwaalaraay (Cunnamulla to Brewarina, and Lightening Ridge areas) man and Ipswich-based paramedic Trent Jackson, who will provide support to the Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast, North Brisbane, Moreton, South Brisbane, Logan, West Moreton Gold Coast, Darling Downs and South West districts.

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