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Taking control of individual health outcomes

11 June 2019

Newly appointed Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Board Chair Ella Kris said she planned to be a strong and collaborative partner for all residents of the Torres Strait, Cape York and the Northern Peninsula Area during her term of chairmanship.

“As such, I would also like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands within which the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service operates, all Elders past and present and the current leaders that govern and advocate for the people of our region,’’ she said.

“I believe that building individual responsibility is the key to improving the health outcomes of all residents in the region.

“In order to address the structural factors underlying poor health outcomes, we must first accept that health is everybody’s responsibility and should be a topic for every government and non-government agency.

“But most of all, it is an individual responsibility. For a community to change, individuals must change.

“But I understand that sometime individuals cannot make health a priority because of the compounding challenges faced within the system that govern us.

“If we are serious about Closing the Gap, then we must be serious about addressing the underlying structural factors that widen the gap.

“These include factors such as social determinants of health, institutional racism, addressing family, domestic and lateral violence and improving access not only to a culturally appropriate primary health care but a culturally safe hospital and health service for all people of Cape York, the Northern Peninsula Area and Torres Strait.

“Health is more than just an hospital service, it is the social and emotional wellbeing of an individual, of a family, a community and a nation.’’

Ms Kris said she brought a passion for health to her new appointment.

“Although, this is my first term on the board, health is not new to me,’’ she said.

“I have been in the health industry for more than 20 years and my personal, educational and professional life journey have led me to this point where I feel honoured, privilege and equipped to lead the Torres and Cape board.

“I believe my appointment to the position of chair demonstrates that Health and Ambulance Services Minister Steven Miles is serious about working towards Closing the Gap and is concerned about our region

“But I will be honest and say that I will not be able entirely to Close the Gap in my term as chair of Torres and Cape Board.

“However, with the support of the board, the executive and staff of Queensland Health, and our partners, we can make good progress by building a solid foundation that will empower communities to take ownership of their own health and create active, safe, and healthy communities.’’

In this, Ms Kris said she would be building on the work already done by the board since the formation of the combined Torres and Cape HHS in June 2014.

“Good foundations already have been laid and I’d like to thank former board chair Bob McCarthy, who led the health service from its formation, for the solid work already done and the head start he has given me,’’ she said.

Ms Kris said she also wanted to acknowledge and thank all the continuing members of her board, as well as welcome new board member Rhonda Shibasaki, who was also starting her first term.

“Any action taken to improve health outcomes must take an holist and whole of community approach, including government and non-government agencies,’’ she said.

“I believe it’s up to us, the people of the land, to take control of our destiny and drive health from the bottom up.

“As part of this process, I would like to support our communities to establish local health action groups and for our board members and executive leaders to take more proactive roles in becoming community champions

“I feel that this will allow communities to advocate for their issues and identify solutions that are appropriate to them.

“With our communities taking control, we will be able to work together and start to build a sustainable foundation for better health outcome for all the peoples of Cape York, the Northern Peninsula Area and the Torres Strait.’’

Ms Kris said greater health promotion and education also was needed to build communities’ awareness of good health behaviours.

“It time to bring together all agencies and collectively review what resources we have and then plan how we can work smarter when delivering services,’’ she said.

“There seems to be lots of duplication of service delivery and there seem to be a lot where health is not involved.

“The value of every service we deliver must be maximised and must directly affect the health outcomes of our people.

“This is what I will be working towards during my term as chairperson.’’

PHOTO CAPTION: Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Board Chair Ella Kris

Last updated: 20 June 2019