South East Queensland is home to 38 per cent of Queensland’s and 11 per cent of Australia’s Indigenous people. The region has the largest and fastest growing Indigenous population in the nation and the biggest health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. In 2009, only a fraction of this population were accessing community controlled comprehensive primary health care.
The imperative to address these challenges shaped the blueprint for a ground-breaking new regional community governance architecture and the formation of a regional backbone organisation – the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH). Critically, this contemporary regional model was underpinned by strong cultural foundations and goes back to traditional ways of being, doing and belonging, when for thousands of years, Aboriginal tribes and nations across South East Queensland came together to achieve shared and cross-territorial goals.
Through strengthened community self-determination, an entrepreneurial business model, and pioneering a brand new regional health ‘ecosystem’, IUIH has now been able to make the biggest single health impact of any Indigenous organisation in Australia, in the shortest time period, and with a national best practice standard of care. In just nine years, the numbers of Indigenous clients accessing comprehensive and culturally safe care in South East Queensland has increased by 340 per cent (from 8000 to 35,000); annual health checks have increased by 4100 per cent (from 500 to 21,000); and, progress against Closing the Gap targets is being made faster than predicted trajectories. Further challenges lie ahead.
In response to even more rapid Indigenous population growth – expected to reach 130,000 in South East Queensland by 2031 – IUIH is now exploring further transformative models which, if realised, have the potential to double its existing client population.
Pictured are IUIH Deadly Choices staff Sam Pierce, Luke Dumas, Tori Cowburn, Donisha Duff, Dwayne Conlon and Jessie Domic, in front of the iconic IUIH headquarters mural featuring Aunty Pamela Mam and Uncle Tiga Bayles.