South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) is a Noongar Community Controlled Health Organisation based in Bunbury, Western Australia. The organisation provides the community and surrounding areas with culturally appropriate medical services while promoting a holistic approach to good health and healthy lifestyles in a culturally safe environment. SWAMS is made up of a clinical team; a social, emotional and wellbeing team; health promotions and home and community care.
Oxfam’s involvement with SWAMS is primarily with the Healing Space — a program that strengthens and enables Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to deal with the impacts of trauma, grief and loss. The Healing Space offers a safe and private place for women, men and children to begin the healing process through self-care, better self esteem, nurturing, healthy relationships, parenting and reconnecting with cultural knowledge.
“Healing to me is trying to fix what is broken in our life. For Aboriginal people this is mainly about loss, grief and trauma. SWAMS is important because our staff know about the issues that impact our lives and can help us achieve a balance that enables us to see a future for ourselves and our families. This allows us maintain our cultural values as Aboriginal people.”
— Glenda Hume, SWAMS CEO
Closing the Gap with SWAMS
Read a series of interviews with members of SWAMS’ clinical team, who share their experiences as Aboriginal health workers and reveal how they’re helping to close the Indigenous life-expectancy gap.
In the first interview, Katherine talks about her work in Aboriginal child and maternal health, and explains the meaning of the SWAMS motto, “Our health, our way”.
Steven explains why it’s so important to have male Aboriginal health workers, and how he’s trying to ensure a better future for Indigenous children.
In our third SWAMS interview, Hayley describes how she puts clients at ease and talks about some of the health issues she encounters in her work.
In our final SWAMS interview, Clem, an advocate between doctor and patient, a crusader against diabetes, and a contact point for the Indigenous community, tells us how he’s trying to Close the Gap.