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Darwin health worker calls for change of appr -

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TONY EASTLEY: I visited a health clinic at the larger Indigenous Bagot camp further out of town. Health worker Dean Nieshner is treating a local woman.

He thinks changes are needed in the approach to Indigenous health care.

DEAN NIESHNER: Ok, take a seat, let me just open up your notes here. Ok, so what have you come in today for?

WOMAN: I had stitches there and I cut my foot the other night and went with the ambulance to the hospital and they put stitches and things. I just need you to have a look at it and probably a dressing.

DEAN NIESHNER: You're not having any problems walking on your leg or anything like that?


TONY EASTLEY: What sort of injuries or ailments and symptoms do you get in here?

DEAN NIESHNER: We mostly get people with a lot of scabies. A lot of skin sores and a lot of ear infections, especially in the children. And we have a lot of cuts and a lot of things from domestic violence to people, just mental health issues, to people that are aged.

TONY EASTLEY: The incidence of say the ear infections with children, is that improved over the years?

DEAN NIESHNER: No. I can honestly say, I've been a health worker, I've worked in remote communities for a very long time. It hasn't really changed at all.

TONY EASTLEY: Is there a single thing that can be done to try and alleviate it?

DEAN NIESHNER: The only thing that can be really done is once again getting the parents, educating them, educating them at a woman's group before the babies are done, due. And then of course doing all the stuff in preschool.

TONY EASTLEY: Is there anything a new federal government could do to speed the process up?

DEAN NIESHNER: I think what the Government really needs to do is to address the funding issues to employ more Aboriginal people in Indigenous health, to really go back to primary health care where we used to go out to people's homes, and to address other issues while we're there, to pick things up, instead of people just now, where you just have to come to the clinic. And people take a long time to say what their diagnosed problem is.

TONY EASTLEY: So the system is good enough, it's just centralised too much is it?

DEAN NIESHNER: That's correct. We don't really do primary health care as what you're taught or what they put on the internet. Nobody goes out anymore.

TONY EASTLEY: So did that method get better outcomes?

DEAN NIESHNER: I think it really did. Because number one, it was a better approach where you can approach the person not only individually but the family and get to know other problems that might be occurring, which you would not have known.

TONY EASTLEY: Dean Niehsner, a health worker at the clinic at Bagot camp in Darwin.