'Doing the hard yards'

Carer and provider focus group perspectives of accessing Aboriginal childhood disability services

Michelle Digiacomo, Patricia Delaney, Penelope Abbott, Patricia M Davidson, Joanne Delaney, Frank Vincent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Despite a high prevalence of disability, Aboriginal Australians access disability services in Australia less than non-Aboriginal Australians with a disability. The needs of Aboriginal children with disability are particularly poorly understood. They can endure long delays in treatment which can impact adversely on development. This study sought to ascertain the factors involved in accessing services and support for Aboriginal children with a disability. Methods. Using the focus group method, two community forums, one for health and service providers and one for carers of Aboriginal children with a disability, were held at an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) in the Sydney, metropolitan area of New South Wales, Australia. Framework analysis was applied to qualitative data to elucidate key issues relevant to the dimensions of access framework. Independent coding consistency checks were performed and consensus of analysis verified by the entire research team, several of whom represented the local Aboriginal community. Results: Seventeen health and social service providers representing local area government and non-government-funded health and social service organisations and five carers participated in two separate forums between September and October 2011. Lack of awareness of services and inadequate availability were prominent concerns in both groups despite geographic proximity to a major metropolitan area with significant health infrastructure. Carers noted racism, insufficient or non-existent services, and the need for an enhanced role of ACCHSs and AHWs in disability support services. Providers highlighted logistical barriers and cultural and historical issues that impacted on the effectiveness of mainstream services for Aboriginal people. Conclusions: Despite dedicated disability services in an urban community, geographic proximity does not mitigate lack of awareness and availability of support. This paper has enumerated a number of considerations to address provision of disability services in an urban Australian Aboriginal community including building expertise and specialist capacity within Aboriginal Health Worker positions and services. Increasing awareness of services, facilitating linkages and referrals, eliminating complexities to accessing support, and working with families and Aboriginal community organisations within a framework of resilience and empowerment to ensure a relevant and acceptable model are necessary steps to improving support and care for Aboriginal children with a disability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number326
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Disabled Children
Focus Groups
Caregivers
Health Services
Social Work
Organizations
Racism
Community Health Services
Local Government
South Australia
New South Wales
Health
Consensus
Referral and Consultation
Research
Therapeutics

Keywords

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Childhood disability
  • Early intervention
  • Focus groups

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

'Doing the hard yards' : Carer and provider focus group perspectives of accessing Aboriginal childhood disability services. / Digiacomo, Michelle; Delaney, Patricia; Abbott, Penelope; Davidson, Patricia M; Delaney, Joanne; Vincent, Frank.

In: BMC Health Services Research, Vol. 13, No. 1, 326, 2013.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Digiacomo, Michelle ; Delaney, Patricia ; Abbott, Penelope ; Davidson, Patricia M ; Delaney, Joanne ; Vincent, Frank. / 'Doing the hard yards' : Carer and provider focus group perspectives of accessing Aboriginal childhood disability services. In: BMC Health Services Research. 2013 ; Vol. 13, No. 1.
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abstract = "Background: Despite a high prevalence of disability, Aboriginal Australians access disability services in Australia less than non-Aboriginal Australians with a disability. The needs of Aboriginal children with disability are particularly poorly understood. They can endure long delays in treatment which can impact adversely on development. This study sought to ascertain the factors involved in accessing services and support for Aboriginal children with a disability. Methods. Using the focus group method, two community forums, one for health and service providers and one for carers of Aboriginal children with a disability, were held at an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) in the Sydney, metropolitan area of New South Wales, Australia. Framework analysis was applied to qualitative data to elucidate key issues relevant to the dimensions of access framework. Independent coding consistency checks were performed and consensus of analysis verified by the entire research team, several of whom represented the local Aboriginal community. Results: Seventeen health and social service providers representing local area government and non-government-funded health and social service organisations and five carers participated in two separate forums between September and October 2011. Lack of awareness of services and inadequate availability were prominent concerns in both groups despite geographic proximity to a major metropolitan area with significant health infrastructure. Carers noted racism, insufficient or non-existent services, and the need for an enhanced role of ACCHSs and AHWs in disability support services. Providers highlighted logistical barriers and cultural and historical issues that impacted on the effectiveness of mainstream services for Aboriginal people. Conclusions: Despite dedicated disability services in an urban community, geographic proximity does not mitigate lack of awareness and availability of support. This paper has enumerated a number of considerations to address provision of disability services in an urban Australian Aboriginal community including building expertise and specialist capacity within Aboriginal Health Worker positions and services. Increasing awareness of services, facilitating linkages and referrals, eliminating complexities to accessing support, and working with families and Aboriginal community organisations within a framework of resilience and empowerment to ensure a relevant and acceptable model are necessary steps to improving support and care for Aboriginal children with a disability.",
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