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Curtin University of Technology
Building Mental Wealth Building Mental Wealth
Untitled Document

Dr Lizzie Finn

Development of an effective bi-cultural collaborative working partnership between an Indigenous Women's Cancer Support Network and mainstream cancer and palliative care services: An emerging framework for a best practice Aboriginal-mainstream partnership model.

Bi-cultural partnerships involving a community-based network/group of Aboriginal people and mainstream health service providers offer enormous potential in the arena of improving Aboriginal access to services. Their role can be crucial in the first essential step of bringing Aboriginal people 'to the door' of mainstream services and in encouraging prevention and treatment maintenance. Courageous communication and well-defined pathways for working collaboratively are important in building strong bi-cultural health partnerships which can help to improve Aboriginal access to mainstream services.

This study aimed to facilitate the development of a collaborative bi-cultural working partnership between an Indigenous Women's Cancer Support Network (IWCSN) and mainstream cancer and palliative care service providers based in Geraldton, WA. Data collection for this participant action research project has been completed and the write up is now taking place. Qualitative research methodology was employed and included focus group interviews followed by collaborative workshop forums to discuss strengths and areas needing improvement in this developing bi-cultural partnership.

A preliminary report on the study indicates that while some progress was made, further work is required to fully develop a collaborative Aboriginal-mainstream cancer service partnership. In terms of progress, the IWCSN and the mainstream cancer/palliative care service providers acknowledged their mutual goal of improving Aboriginal access to cancer treatment and screening services. Progress was made towards establishing a framework to guide their collaborative working relationship. The guidelines agreed to by both parties included important structural elements to guide their work including the clarification of referral pathways and management of confidentiality and cultural security issues. Contingencies were also put in place to improve inter-partner communication and effective management of their joint relationship. This developing partnership can be described as still being in early stages and requires further monitoring and evaluation to ensure it is firmly established.