WA Health Award boosts staff morale for Moorditj Djena team
Staff members from the North and South Metropolitan Health Service foot care and diabetes education to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have seen an increase in staff morale since receiving a coveted WA Health Award last year.
Julia Kurowski, Senior Podiatrist and Project Coordinator of the North Metropolitan Moorditj Djena team (meaning ‘strong feet’ in the Noongar language), stated that the award, received in the category of Partnering for Better Outcomes in Aboriginal Health, generated a lot of promotion in newspapers across the metro area.
“Moorditj Djena continues to be well utilised by the Aboriginal community; we mostly receive new clients to the service by self-referral generated by word of mouth,” Julia said.
“Building community engagement and clients is a long term process and the WA Health Award received last year provided employees with increased morale and added justification for continued funding for the program.”
Since January 2011 more than 60 per cent of new and follow-up clients have been walk-ins, rather than referrals, reflecting how well the service has penetrated into local communities.
Statistics show that Aboriginal people are seven times more likely to develop diabetes than non-Aboriginal people and up to 38 times more likely to have a limb amputation in the 25 to 49 year age group than a non Aboriginal person with diabetes.
Moorditj Djena is the only service of its kind in WA to employ Aboriginal health professionals working alongside senior podiatrists and diabetes educators, specifically to aid in the treatment and prevention of foot complications associated with chronic disease within the Aboriginal population. Currently over 1,000 clients are registered with the service, many of whom are accessing diabetes education and podiatry services for the first time.
The Moorditj Djena program is currently operating under the four-year Council of Australian Government’s Closing the Gap Partnership Agreement, which is now into its final year. The program helps to decrease the number of diabetes-related foot complications which costs the Australian health system over $600 million each year.
“Continuation of funds for the Moorditj Djena service past September 2013 would enable us to continue to raise awareness of the effects of diabetes and prevent further issues associated with diabetes in the local Aboriginal community, while making a positive difference to a patient’s quality of life,” Julia said.
Since the WA Health Award, Jo Scheepers, Senior Podiatrist and Senior Project Officer at the North Metropolitan Public Health and Ambulatory Care has been further recognised by Rotary in Western Australia as the Allied Health Podiatrist of the Year for her work setting up and coordinating the Moorditj Djena Program as well as providing a service over and above expectation.