Abrolhos Group Board addresses Business After Hours of Chamber of Commerce
My name is Gaby Bracks. I am a board member of the newly formed Abrolhos Group and I drew the short straw to speak briefly tonight about who and what the Abrolhos Group is.
Thank you to Stuart Adamson and the Chamber for allowing the Abrolhos Group the opportunity to speak tonight.
Despite the wonderful lifestyle we have, those of us living in regional Australia are disadvantaged in a number of ways. Research shows that health and education outcomes for people living in regional Australia are worse than those for people living in cities. One of the main reasons for this is lack of access to services in regional Australia.
The Abrolhos Group is a not-for-profit organisiation, based here in Geraldton, that was incorporated in June this year. The group was formed by Dr Kim Pedlow and his wife Anne , who recognized that there were a number of gaps in the services and support available here in the Midwest and in other regional areas in Western Australia, and saw the potential for a not-for-profit group to try to fill some of those gaps. Kim and Anne then sought other board members for the group and a number of us are here tonight.
We aim to assist in areas where we have expertise. At the moment, the Abrolhos Group has 3 areas of focus:
- training doctors and midwives in regional Western Australia to use point of care ultrasound machines. Around 4 years ago, the Telethon Institute for Child Health and WA Country Health Services funded the purchase of 29 top-end point-of-care ultrasound machines worth approximately $40,000 each to go to obstetric units around the state. The idea was to train doctors and midwives to use these machines to carry out Level 1 obstetric ultrasound at the point of care – ie: in the hospital or clinic without the need to go to an ultrasound department. However, for a variety of reasons, mainly professional turf wars, midwives and to a lesser extent doctors were not trained to use the machines and the machines funded by the Telethon Institute were not being used as planned and some were not being used at all. Kim Pedlow became aware of this and had the expertise to train doctors to use the point of care ultrasound machines. Since then, Kim and The Abrolhos Group have trained doctors in using point-of-care ultrasound machines in Geraldton, Esperance and Broome, and plan to continue training doctors and midwives around the state in the use of these machines. The intent of point-of-care U/S is not to compete with ultrasound departments or private radiology clinics, but to lighten the load on ultrasound departments by dating and siting the pregnancy. Particularly this fills the gap where a pregnant woman may not go on from the clinic to an ultrasound department, or where a woman has come in from a remote area at a time when the ultrasound department or clinic is not open, or where an ultrasound appointment is not available for many weeks. Training doctors and midwives to carry out Level 1 point-of-care ultrasound enables doctors and midwives to tell if a baby is alive, to date the foetus and perhaps most importantly, to determine the baby’s position prior to due date and know if the baby is breech. Unexpected breech deliveries can be catastrophic, sometimes causing death of the baby or brain damage. Knowing a baby is breech before delivery means that the doctor or midwife can discuss the risks with the mother and usually advise the mother to have a caesarian delivery.
- The second area of focus is raising awareness of learning difficulties and where and how to access assistance for kids who have learning difficulties. Children with learning difficulties who are diagnosed early often have better outcomes at school. There is also a correlation between poor literacy and poor health outcomes. Parents and teachers aren’t always aware of how to identify learning difficulties or where to get help if learning difficulties are identified. The Abrolhos Group, as a not-for-profit organization with the aim of trying to fill some of the gaps in services in the regions, sees an opportunity to facilitate the provision of education to teachers and parents on how to identify learning difficulties in children and to provide information on where to get help and what Medicare-funded services are available to assist people with learning and behavioural difficulties.
- The third area of focus for the Abrolhos Group is supporting orphanages in East Timor, Cambodia and Africa. Even though there are issues in regional Australia, the group recognizes that there are bigger issues in other parts of the world. Some members of the Abrolhos Group have supported orphanages overseas for some time and the Abrolhos Group wishes to extend support to these orphanages and provide a vehicle for others to support the orphanages in a way that is tax deductible. Donations to the Abrolhos Group are tax deductible.
The group is open to any suggestions about other areas where it might be able to assist. There are several members (introduce by name) of he Abrolhos Group here tonight – if you wish to assist, have any suggestions or join as a friend of the AG please speak to one of us.
Thanks again to Stuart Adamson and the chamber for allowing the Abrolhos Group this opportunity to speak tonight. Congratulations to Stuart and his team on their new medical centre.