Apunipima hosts community representatives at Forum in Cairns

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Apunipima recently hosted a Forum in Cairns with representatives attending from the various Cape communities the Health Council services. The Forum was attended by staff, members of the Board, and the various community members that make up each community’s Health Action Team (HAT).  

Community–based Health Action Teams (HATs) are a vital part of Apunipima’s community control model. Health Action Teams are made up of community-based members who meet on a regular basis to discuss the health needs of their communities. The purpose of the HAT is to provide advice, guidance and support to the organisation on the delivery of comprehensive primary health care services in their community. This strengthens our communities’ right to self-determination by allowing community members to control their health service and be independent and autonomous.  

The purpose of the Forum was to empower the Health Action Teams to lead local community initiatives whilst also providing a regional focus on Closing the Gap in health for the Cape. This was achieved through a combination of training and discussion. The training provided was around governance and procedures between staff, the board and the local teams to ensure the model works as smoothly as possible. The discussion aspect was made up of breakout groups and workshops which also provided networking opportunities to assist in identifying and addressing local community issues and how to turn those challenges into opportunities. 

There was a great culture of sharing and learning across the event with community leadership and cultural knowledge key to the success of the event. The breakout workshops enabled a grassroots voice to support a strength-based approach to identifying and addressing local community issues. This led to plenty of rigorous discussion, brainstorming and problem solving in an interactive , collaborative and culturally safe environment. 

Executive Organisational Development Manager Adelina Stanley said that all the communities participated and provided honest feedback. “It was a real privilege for our staff and some of our newer HAT members to gain a better understanding of the considerations for providing culturally safe care, and to hear first-hand from our communities how we can better support them. Some of our new HAT members in particular got a lot of information and inspiration at the event,” she said. 

The two-day event at the Novotel Cairns also featured a dinner on the first night with the teams shown a documentary about the evolution and essence of the HATs. This was followed by keynote speeches from special guests before an awards ceremony recognising and celebrating the achievements of HAT Members and teams concluded the festivities for the evening.  

Apunipima’s Learning and Development manager Ian Ludwick, said that it was great to see the teams developing their understanding of their role. “There was some really useful training sessions which led into some fantastic discussion. I think it was really good for the HATs to build that knowledge base and grow their understanding of how they can work with Apunipima to drive progress in their communities.”  

To learn more about the Health Action Teams, including how to join your local team, talk to your local Apunipima staff or click on this page.