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Our Region, Our People: Meet Sharni

Published 01 July 2024

ITC program helps First Nations people access care to manage diabetes and other chronic conditions

Pictured from left: ITC Outreach Worker Atha Power, ITC Care Coordinator - Private Practices patients Alma Hawdon, ITC Care Coordinator - ATSICHS Mackay patients Thelma Fry, and Indigenous Health Project Officer/Team Leader Sharni Scott-Knight.

Two new programs will be rolled out this year to help combat diabetes and other chronic conditions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

This is good news for the Mackay community, according to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS) Mackay Integrated Team Care (ITC) team. 

ATSICHS Mackay Indigenous Health Project Officer Sharni Scott-Knight (nee Dorante) said the ITC team recently participated in the Diabetes Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Diabetes training as well as the My Health for Life facilitator training.   

“These programs are currently in the planning stages and will be rolled out in this year,” Mrs Scott-Knight said. 

“The ITC team plans on providing culturally appropriate group education with our clients and motivational interviewing for health goal setting as part of the My Health for Life Health Lifestyle Program. 

“We are also planning upcoming facilitator training in the Diabetes Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Diabetes program which features Magnet Man, a new and improved Felt Man, to assist in one-one-one and group education on diabetes. 

“This will encourage our people to maintain healthy lifestyle choices, gain health education and literacy, and self-manage their conditions. 

“It is very exciting for the ITC team and our clients.” 

Mackay's residents, who will benefit from the programs, couldn’t be happier. 

“ATSICHS ITC clients are appreciative for the assistance provided through the program, for example, medical aids, supplementary services, and transportations to their medical appointments,” Mrs Scott-Knight said. 

“One of our clients, who attends dialysis three times a week, will be having a kidney transplant in the near future. This will be a huge benefit to their health and wellbeing, and daily life. 

“These programs will be extremely beneficial to help people manage their chronic conditions and continue to access culturally safe and high-quality health care services, at both Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and mainstream private practice.” 

Mrs Scott-Knight said their clients were constantly complimenting the work the ITC team did and voicing their appreciation. 

“Our Care Coordinators always receive feedback from clients about going ‘above and beyond to help’,” she said.  

ITC Outreach Worker Atha Power said after transporting a client to a mainstream doctor’s appointment and hearing that they were having trouble with their CPAP machine, she asked permission to look at the machine. 

“The oxygen connection had been beeping at night and they hadn’t been using the machine because of this,” Mrs Power said. “We tested machine and called the local supplier for assistance to fix the problem.  

“The issue was resolved over the phone, but if the beeping continued, we had organised for the supplier to come and service the machine.  

“I also helped with taping down the oxygen tubing that led to their bedroom, so it wouldn’t be a tripping hazard.  

“The client was so grateful and appreciated my time and effort in solving their CPAP and oxygen issue.” 

The ITC Program, which is delivered by ATSICHS Mackay for the Mackay, Sarina, and Isaac regions, is funded under Northern Queensland Primary Health Network's (NQPHN’s) Indigenous Australians’ Health Program and aims to improve the health outcomes for First Nations peoples.  

The program supports people to access medical and allied health services that are imperative in managing their chronic and complex health conditions and deterioration to the point of needing hospitalisation. 

Last updated: 01 July 2024