With under two months until the 2021 Census, the spotlight has been put on the importance of its data in improving access to health services in regional areas, specifically through organisations like Orange Aboriginal Medical Service.
Using census data, along with other research findings specific to the area, to assist in securing funding to construct a purpose-built well-being and rehabilitation centre named Walu-Win, which was officially opened in August last year.
Walu-Win - which comes from the Wiradjuri word for 'healthy' - combines holistic and traditional medical practices to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and was launched despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
OAMS chief executive officer Jamie Newman explained census data was used to help build a profile of the region, allowing a better understanding of what the local community required and secure additional funding for the project.
"Improving access to health services through Walu-Win and a more holistic well-being focus is vital to closing the gap. We can't close the gap without focusing on well-being for our people," Mr Newman said.
"We often see clients more than a GP would, which could be about something that is stressing them out socially or emotionally, through to developing exercise and nutritional programs. That's our day-to-day service and that's what we mean about being holistic," Walu-Win manager Zara Crawford added.
Both Mr Newman and Ms Crawford urged the Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander communities to participate in this year's census.
"Accurate census data enables community-controlled organisations to know where our people are situated and what their needs are. This ultimately goes back into generating positive health outcomes for our people," Mr Newman explained.
"In terms of participating in the Census, if our voices aren't heard and if we are not recognised, then how do we make change?" Ms Crawford added.
The 2021 Census will be held on Tuesday 10 August nationally, with a targeted approach in July and August for people in remote communities.
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