RON Gidgup is passionate about building a bridge connecting indigenous patients with the best possible health outcomes.
He has an extensive public service background, including a stint with the Department of Child Protection followed by seven years with WA Health, and has co-ordinated Fiona Stanley Hospital’s Aboriginal Health Liaison Office (AHLO) since 2015.
The AHLO provides accessible and culturally appropriate services to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait people who use the hospital, some of whom hail from thousands of kilometres away.
“Historically, Aboriginal people have a distrust for any process that involves them being told that it is for their for own good,” Mr Gidgup said.
“There has been a lot of progress made on that front but unfortunately a lot of the negative impacts over the years have been passed down and do affect our current younger generations.
“The AHLO provides a range of support services from travel and transport to linking families up with interpreters and helping them through the care and discharge process.
“We’ve developed relationships with departments across the hospital so that we can make sure the services being delivered to the indigenous community are culturally informed and respectful.”
Mr Gidgup said Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders arriving in Perth from remote communities could feel like they were entering a completely different planet.
“Sometimes their behaviour can be interpreted as aggressive when really they are just afraid,” he said.
“In some cases we are able to link up with those remote areas which gives patients a lot more reassurance because they can speak directly to their family members.”
Mr Gidgup said diabetes, heart disease and kidney failure were major indigenous health issues.
“The lifestyles that some communities and families have found themselves in have impacted gravely on their health,” he said.
“In two years I’ve seen a huge number of amputees as a result of those chronic illnesses.”