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Breaking down the barriers

THE ACCESS All Areas campaign was launched in Brisbane today, aiming to break down the barriers disadvantaged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience in accessing services within their community.

Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Human Services Coalition executive director Garth Morgan said the campaign was about improving both service access and delivery.

“We’re talking about improving outcomes in everything from health and housing to education and employment,” says Garth.

“Indigenous Australian communities should be able to access the same services as the rest of Australia.

“It simply isn’t good enough that a quarter of the Indigenous population of Queensland has had problems accessing health services.

“It isn’t good enough that the Indigenous employment rate in our state is more than three times the Australian rate or that Indigenous Australians are three times as likely to be homeless as other Australians, with Queensland second only to the Northern Territory.”

Garth says that while the figures reflect in part the difficulty of providing services to remote areas, there are other barriers at play.

“Many people are reluctant to access services because they fear they may not be treated with respect or supported,” he says.

“We have to change that to a belief that when people access a service they know that they and the information they supply will be treated appropriately and with respect.

“We can break the negative cycle of the past through engaging young people, getting them to spread the message that it’s okay to front up and ask for help, that you’ll be talking to somebody who will take you seriously and who can make a positive difference in your life.”

The campaign will focus on the joint tasks of increasing awareness of the services available to Indigenous Australian communities and ensuring people using these services achieve the best possible outcomes.

“It’s all about choice,” says Garth. “It’s about knowing what service options are out there and how to access them, knowing what’s right for you and that when you get there the service is culturally appropriate and meets your needs.

“We’re bringing the service providers together to work on issues of service delivery. We’re spreading the word to Indigenous Australian communities that these services are available, that they’re user-friendly and that they’re there to help.

“Through a network of ambassadors known and respected within their communities we’re saying: ‘These services are here. Choose them, use them and benefit from them.'”

The Access All Areas campaign has been launched in south-east Queensland and over the next twelve months there is potential for new ambassadors to be appointed in other areas to increase awareness of services for local Indigenous families.

The Australian Government has provided $150,000 in funding for the campaign.

“By working together we hope to enable better outcomes for Indigenous Australians by improving connections to services at both the access and delivery points,” says Garth.

For more information on Access All Areas, click here