TV to close the gap

A comprehensive new digital television network focused on health in indigenous communities will be rolled out across hundreds of health centres, as the federal government works with First Nations communities to ‘Close the Gap’ and achieve health equality.

Funding of $3.4 million has been committed over the next three years to develop the Aboriginal Health TV Network, which will deliver health and wellbeing messages through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

“We’re aiming to start the rollout in October, with the Aboriginal Health TV Network expected to reach up to 1.2 million people each month in hundreds of community-controlled primary healthcare waiting rooms across the nation,” Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt said.

“The scope of this network is exciting, with important health and wellbeing stories, plus local production input to ensure the broadcasts are relevant and engaging for their audiences.

“Through an entertaining and compelling format, health messages will be delivered on issues such as smoking, eye and ear checks, skin conditions, diet, immunisation, sexual health, diabetes, and drug and alcohol treatment services.”

Content will be developed by the network in partnership with local Aboriginal health services, to ensure it is culturally appropriate and relevant.

The network will also use mobile solutions and social media and will be developed by health communications company Tonic Health Media with oversight from its indigenous advisory board.

Board members are described as respected members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health community.

They include Dr Mark Wenitong (Apunipima Cape York Health Council), Donna Ah Chee (Central Australian Aboriginal Congress), Adrian Carson (Institute of Urban Indigenous Health), Professor Sandra Eades (University of Melbourne) and Associate Professor Dr Christopher Lawrence (University of Technology Sydney).

“The new Aboriginal Health TV Network will be installed in Aboriginal health services free of charge and it is envisaged it will be self-sufficient within three years,” Mr Wyatt said.

“Importantly, programming from the Network will also be available for transmission on Tonic Health Media’s existing platform, which broadcasts in mainstream health services.

“That means the health messaging will also reach the 50 per cent of First Nations people who use non-Aboriginal health services.”