Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with a serious burn injury – multidisciplinary teams describe what informs their care

Ms Sarah Fraser1, Associate Professor Julian Grant1, Dr Tamara Mackean1, Dr Kate Hunter2, Mrs Ngara Keeler3, Professor Kathleen Clapham4, Associate Professor Warwick Teague5, Professor Tom Potokar6, Professor Rebecca Ivers2

1Flinders University, Bedford Park, Australia, 2The George Institute for Global Health, Newtown, Australia, 3Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia, 4University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia, 5University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, 6University of Swansea, Swansea, United Kingdon


Objective: To investigate factors informing burn care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
Design: In-depth qualitative study with semi-structured interview questions.
Setting and participants: Multidisciplinary team members who provide care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in six tertiary burn units across five Australian jurisdictions.
Results: Results from 76 interviews suggest burn care in Australia is informed by a web of complex factors including evidence, resources and resourcing, individual clinician decision making processes and beliefs, and models of care. A western biomedical health paradigm governs healthcare system policy for burn care. The allocation of resources informs the provision (or not) of care; as does expert information and direction from senior clinicians. Participants reported jurisdictional specific models of burn care to inform care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children; which were developed using service and team experience, population data and other evidence derived in a western paradigm.
Conclusion: Burn care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia is performed in a western biomedical paradigm that participants report is not always aligned with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families’ concepts of health and healing. System resources to support services and individuals targeting good burn care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are required.


Sarah is a registered nurse and currently works in a state-wide quality improvement coordinator role at the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia. Sarah is one of four PhD candidates on a large study investigating burn injury in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.


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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