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About the award

The Excellence in Aboriginal Healthcare Award recognises exceptional healthcare delivery through strong partnerships across NSW Health and external agencies.

This award recognises projects, programs or initiatives which demonstrate:

  • valuing and fostering respect for the expertise and knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) and their staff
  • collaboration in designing and delivering services
  • sharing of resources
  • strong consultation and communication mechanisms
  • strategic collaboration or partnership in the development of the project
  • responsiveness to the local Aboriginal community's health needs, as identified by the local Aboriginal Health Organisation
  • capacity building and employment of Partnership Agreement or Aboriginal Health Local Health District Action for Aboriginal people.
  • partnership with Aboriginal people and their communities in the design, implementation, evaluation, and evidence building.

Winner – Aboriginal Health Housing Pathway

South Western Sydney Local Health District


Approximately 18% of Aboriginal people residing in South Western Local Health District (SWSLHD) live in social housing. Many of these tenants have complex health needs which are impacted by their living conditions.

The SWSLHD Aboriginal Health Service and Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) Housing Team established the Aboriginal Health Escalated Housing Pathway. This pathway is a coordinated approach to support clients whose social housing issues were making their health, safety or social and emotional wellbeing worse.

The pathway identifies people whose housing issues are impacting their health. They then work collaboratively with the DCJ Housing Team, to get these clients expedited interventions to resolve their housing concern. The pathway has mechanisms to prioritised referrals. Regular meeting between the Aboriginal Health Service and DCJ reviews complex clients. They determine coordinated responses that address both health and housing concerns. Executive sponsorship of the pathway by the District Director for Housing and SWSLHD Director Aboriginal Health ensures timely interventions.

The pathway has enabled more than 100 clients with complex needs to have their housing issue resolved. This in turn enables improved health, social and emotional wellbeing outcomes.

The range of issues addressed through the pathway include:

  • homelessness,
  • domestic violence,
  • child protection, and
  • essential home modifications that ensure properties are liveable for clients with chronic conditions or disability.

Highly commended – Welcome Baby to Bourke Ceremony

Western NSW Local Health District


Welcome Baby Back to Bourke is a cultural ceremony with families and the Bourke community. Introducing babies to community is a traditional practice that dates back to thousands of years through generations.

When maternity services closed in Bourke, residents were concerned about the cultural disconnect from not being able to birth on country. To address this issue, a culturally appropriate, innovative solution was sought. During its creation, the importance of it being 'owned and led' by the Bourke community was recognised. From that, a community-based co-design was initiated and implemented.

The ceremony reduces the cultural disconnection and gives the babies a sense of identity and belonging right from the beginning. Babies will go into life knowing who they are and the country that they belong to. They can take pride in their culture, their traditions, and their identity. It is a significant way to connect new babies to their community, country and Aboriginal Elders.

The ceremony is facilitated by Aboriginal Elders and Health staff. It includes a traditional welcome, a formal welcome and a presentation of the children to the community. The whole family is involved and supported by other community members and importantly acknowledged by the Aboriginal Elders.

In 2021, 32 babies were welcomed in the ceremony, this number increased to 35 babies in 2022. Additionally, a special ceremony where 137 older children (3 - 21 years) were welcomed to Bourke was held. The 2023 ceremony was held 26 September with 30 babies being welcomed to Bourke.

Finalist – My rehab, my journey: Gadjigadji

Agency for Clinical Innovation


Gadjigadji (meaning regrowth: from the Gamilaraay language) is an online resource that was co-designed in 2019-2021 with the Aboriginal workforce and community. It improves the rehabilitation experience for Aboriginal people by providing culturally safe healthcare.

Gadjigadji's design was developed using data, literature, a state-wide clinician survey, and state-wide workshops that consulted Aboriginal community members, health workers and clinicians.

The website features:

  • 'clinical yarning' videos
  • stories
  • templates
  • quizzes
  • a self-assessment tool, and

These resources help assess the cultural appropriateness of physical and care environments and include tools to help implement improvement plans.

Gadjigadji resources have been used in projects to create specific cultural spaces, yarning circles with Aboriginal Liaison Officers, co-designed outdoor spaces for therapy, and to introduce Aboriginal music into therapy.

The website serves several important purposes: It highlights the strengths of Aboriginal culture, supports services to partner and grow in cultural understanding, and showcases results.

Gadjigadji was first launched in December 2021 in five locations. There are now 37 sites using this resource. The website had 25,408 visits to June 2023 with over 1,500 visits to the 'clinician quick quiz'.

"This project brings hope. There (is) really positive energy to change rehabilitation services; making it ….. inviting for Aboriginal people. The …team have delved into .. deeper understanding, and this has opened doors. There is a genuine desire to show meaningful outcomes."

Current as at: Tuesday 24 October 2023
Contact page owner: NSW Health