This case study describes the evolution of a remote area Aboriginal primary health- care service and analyses the key factors instrumental in bringing about effective and sustainable changes in health-care provision.
The aim of this study was to describe the reorientation of a remote primary health-care service, in the Kimberley region of Australia, its impact on access to services and the factors instrumental in bringing about change. A unique community-initiated health service partnership was developed between a community-controlled Aboriginal health organisation, a government hospital and a population health unit, in order to overcome the challenges of delivering primary health care to a dispersed, highly disadvantaged Aboriginal population in a very remote area. The shared goals and clear delineation of responsibilities achieved through the partnership reoriented an essentially acute hospital-based service to a prevention-focussed comprehensive primary health-care service, with a focus on systematic screening for chronic disease, interdisciplinary follow up, health promotion, community advocacy and primary prevention. This formal partnership enabled the primary health-care service to meet the major challenges of providing a sustainable, prevention-focussed service in a very remote and socially disadvantaged area.