Health Services,

New approach to Aboriginal care

From left: Rosemary Thomas, Bec Brown and Gail Mounsey from LRH's Aboriginal Health Unit.

Rosemary Thomas felt a connection to Aboriginal people at the age of 17 and knew her destiny was to work them.

The daughter of a GP, Rosemary became a nurse with an interest in paediatrics.

“When the recession hit in the 90s there were no jobs but there was an ad in the paper offering a flight and to take your car up to Alice Springs. By then I’d done paediatrics at the Royal Children’s and I thought why not. There were quite a few nurses who went up there in their 20s and paediatrics at the Royal Children’s and Alice Springs hospitals were connected.” Rosemary said.

Years of experience in Central Australia after that initial adventure plus a deep respect and admiration for Aboriginal culture, will work in Rosemary’s favour in her role as the Clinical Nurse Coordinator in our Aboriginal Health Unit (AHU). The new role involves addressing the clinical needs of Aboriginal patients.

“For example, I can look at their test results and recommend referrals to a specialist or physio or social work. Sometimes, Aboriginal patients are unable to advocate for themselves because they don’t feel comfortable sharing their situation, whether it’s physical or social,” Rosemary said.

Rosemary works alongside AHU team members, Gail, Bonnie and Bec to support patients, who have gladly accepted her clinical advocacy.
“I love the people and nursing the families. I love the vibrancy, colour and art of the culture,” Rosemary said.

“When I used to work in the communities, if you respected that person, you get the respect back. It’s knowing when to intervene and knowing when to step aside.”