Australia’s First Nation Children’s need for Culturally Appropriate Burn After Care

Ms Julieann Coombes1,3, Dr Kate Hunter1,2, Dr Tamara Mackean1,4, Professor Elizabeth Sullivan3, Professor Rebecca Ivers1,3, Professor Andrew Holland5

1The George Instuitute For Global Health, Newtown, Australia, 2University of New South Wales,Faculty of Medicine,, Sydney, Australia, 3University Of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia, 4Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia, 5University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia


Background:The lack of cultural safety and appropriate communication in health care in Australia is ongoing for First Nation people creating potential barriers to accessing health services.  We report on preliminary findings from a study investigating factors impacting access to culturally safe and appropriate after burn care.

Methods:Eighteen parents of children under 16yrs were asked to describe their journey in accessing appropriate burn after care. Interviews were conducted in family homes and communities. Indigenous research methodology was used throughout the study, including yarning for interviewing and Indigenous concepts of health to frame data analysis. Data was gathered in South Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales.

Results:Access for First Nation children and their families can be difficult due to the lack of finances, distance to services. Presently there are no known culturally appropriate resources to help families understand the process of medical intervention for the healing process to continue once the child has left the burns unit. Involvement of First Nation health workers working with health providers, the child and family members was found to be an important facilitator in improving access to ongoing health care.

Conclusion: There are significant barriers in accessing health care following a burn but also some clear facilitators. It is fundamental for First Nation families to have input into care received and the care that is needed for ongoing burn care to be effective. Barriers can be alleviated by First Nation Health workers support and involvement in the child’s health care.


Julieann identifies as a Gamilaraay woman. She is a Registered Practice Nurse with extensive involvement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. She is very active in local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative groups, has taught Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in secondary and tertiary institutions and has represented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses at the national level. Julieann’s focus areas are cultural awareness, equity, equality, health and education. She held the position for a 3-year term on the Board of Ethics for the Australian Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA). Julieann is an Aboriginal PhD Candidate at University of Technology, Sydney and is an Aboriginal Research Fellow at The George Institute for Global Health.


ANZBA is a not for profit organisation and the peak body for health professionals responsible for the care of the burn injured in Australia and New Zealand. ANZBA encourages higher standards of care through education, performance monitoring and research.

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