10 August 2018

Aboriginal health TV network a welcome move

Communication Technology TheHill

A new digital television network will be rolled out across hundreds of health centres as part of a federal government initiative to deliver health and wellbeing messages through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

Over the next three years $3.4 million has been committed to develop the Aboriginal Health TV network, which is expected to reach up to 1.2 million people each month in hundreds of community-controlled primary health care waiting rooms.

The network will be developed by health communications company Tonic Health Media as a not-for-profit enterprise, with oversight from its Indigenous Advisory Board.

“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,”  Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt said in a media statement.

“Through an engaging 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,” the minister said.

Tonic today welcomed the announcement of the network, which will operate in collaboration with the government, State and Territory and local Aboriginal health service providers.

“This is a unique opportunity to communicate with Indigenous audiences at the point of care when patients, their families, carers and health service providers are strongly focussed on health and wellbeing,” Tonic chief executive Dr Matthew Cullen said.

“We are looking forward to working with our partners, Aboriginal producers who specialise in Indigenous content, as well as our Indigenous Advisory Board to increase health knowledge in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” he said.

“This partnership is an important step towards Tonic’s goal of improving health outcomes for all Australians.”

The network will also use mobile solutions and social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to expand the platform’s reach and promote engagement.

Board members are respected members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health community, including Dr Mark Wenitong from Apunipima Cape York Health Council, Donna Ah Chee from the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, Adrian Carson from the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health, Professor Sandra Eades from the University of Melbourne and Associate Professor Dr Christopher Lawrence from the 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,” said Minister Wyatt.“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% of First Nations people who use non-Aboriginal health services.”