Karen Bryant: Northern Hospital: Westfield Local Heroes 2018
Karen offers Indigenous hospital patients a gentle guiding hand
The $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant has been placed in the Northern Health pipeline of research projects that will be rolled out in the near future. The additional funds will be used to help improve the journey of visiting the hospital for Aboriginal youth, this will include improving information boards, purchasing travel cards, toiletries, phone cards, radio and more.
There will also be a designated piece of artwork placed within the hospital that will create by a local Aboriginal artist that celebrates the culture of Indigenous people and creates a warm and welcoming environment.
The Westfield Local Heroes grant has given Northern Health and its Aboriginal Support Unit greater visibility within the community. It has also given Northern Health the opportunity to engage purposefully with the community and strengthen their commitment to improving services within the Aboriginal community by making them more accessible.
When Indigenous patients and their families need help making their way around Epping’s Northern Hospital, Karen Bryant is the person they turn to for cultural support.
As Senior Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer at the hospital, Karen provides assistance with admissions and navigating the complex health system.
“I work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients to offer a range of culturally appropriate support and advocacy to improve the patient journey,” she says.
A tireless worker, Karen is also there to support Indigenous families during points of crisis such as family violence.
She ensures her clients have access to community services and programs to support and maintain their health after leaving the hospital and also gives support with emotionally difficult processes such as end-of-life planning.
“At times of crisis, people are overwhelmed and not thinking straight, but we help by approaching every situation in a positive manner and breaking issues down so they can be tackled one piece at a time,” Karen says.
But Karen’s work at the hospital is just the beginning of her contribution. She’s also a longstanding member of the local Aboriginal Reconciliation Group and spends countless hours educating the broader community and health systems about Aboriginal culture.
“The cultural training allows our mob to express diversity and gives the doctors and nurses some practical tips about communicating and engaging with Aboriginal people,” she says.
Karen says she is extremely humbled and excited to be voted a Westfield Local Hero by her community.
“This gives me another incentive to keep striving for the best health outcomes for my patients and it is great to be valued by my peers,” she says.
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.