Each year at Epic Pharmacy we try and make sure that our Christmas gifting program not only gives us the opportunity to recognise and thank the wonderful team members of the healthcare organisations we work with, but also aligns with our purpose value around the delivery of exceptional healthcare.
For us this rules out the gifting of alcohol or chocolates or the like, nice as those things are to enjoy in moderation, and has seen us stretch our thinking in past years to deliver boxes of cherries and coffee pods. This year, we’ve taken a different, somewhat more practical approach to our gift giving, that further aligns with our commitment to exceptional healthcare but in a particular way.
Along with our sister businesses across Icon Group, we’ve just launched our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), (more about that here) and know that increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals in the pharmacy sector is an important component of ‘Closing the Gap’ in health outcomes. There are currently less than 50 Indigenous pharmacists in Australia.
Epic Good Foundation Manager and Icon Group RAP Convenor Dr Anita Heiss introduced us to Indigenous Allied Health Australia, a not for profit organisation representing Indigenous allied health professionals and students. We were immediately interested, as we’d seen first hand the benefits from our Port Macquarie pharmacy’s involvement in the Indigenous Pharmacy traineeship program.
We were interested to learn that Chair of IAHA, Faye McMillan, a Wiradjuri woman from Trangie, Central Western New South Wales, completed her pharmacy degree at the Charles Sturt University in 2001. She is the first Aboriginal person in Australia to gain a pharmacy degree and to go onto registration as a pharmacist. We would like to see many more Indigenous students graduate in pharmacy in the coming years.
IAHA is dedicated to supporting Indigenous Australians through promoting allied health careers, building the allied health workforce through educational support and advocacy, and leadership development of Indigenous allied health professionals. We’ve started placing all of the jobs across Icon Group on their jobs board, and look forward to continuing to explore how we can expand the ways we work with them.
As a not for profit, financial support is imperative in allowing them to do the work they do, so we have joined as a corporate member and have decided to donate our entire Christmas gifting budget to IAHA this year, with the hope that this will achieve two outcomes.
The first of these is simple – access to funds supports the programs they are delivering. However we’re also hoping that our decision will shine a spotlight on the work they do, and encourage other healthcare organisations to get involved, by placing jobs or becoming a mentor. To see the myriad of ways to support IAHA please visit their website.
We asked Donna Murray, CEO of Indigenous Allied Health Australia how our donation would impact, and she said, ‘We are extremely grateful to receive this kind donation from Epic Pharmacy. It value adds to our work in achieving Indigenous health equity through support for growing the Indigenous allied health workforce including the pharmacy sector. The donation will also significantly contribute to our work with communities around health literacy and use of medicines.
Among many other activities we are currently working on is a comprehensive cultural responsiveness training program, a health career pathways project in the Northern Territory, as well as providing inter-professional development opportunities for members and the wider health workforce in respecting and appreciating the need for multidisciplinary approaches to person-centred health care.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health workforce is estimated at less than 1% of the total allied health workforce and therefore it is critical to promote, build and support not only the existing allied health professionals, but nurture and provide career pathways that lead to a long term sustainable workforce that can meet the holistic health and wellbeing needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.’
I don’t think there is a single healthcare worker in Australia who isn’t aware of the differential health outcomes experienced by Australia’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. Increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who work in healthcare is a vital component of closing the gap, and this Christmas we want to pay tribute to the great work that is done by our healthcare partner organisations by making this donation in their honour.
In the spirit of Christmas we hope that the joy of giving in this way is felt by our partners, and that our donation will help make it possible to support the next generation of Indigenous healthcare workers. This is a gift that will last much longer than any short term sugar hit would. We view our donation as a way of acknowledging the great working relationships we’ve enjoyed again in 2016 with teams across so many organisations, delivering valuable services throughout hospital, cancer care and residential aged care environments.
As we move forward with the implementation of our RAP we would love to hear stories from other healthcare organisations who are further progressed in their reconciliation journeys, and let us know if we’ve encouraged you to explore ways your organisation can get involved!