Considering models of practice: challenges faced by the Bush Support Service in developing service delivery to support remote area Aboriginal workers in health

  • Published 2011


The Bush Support Service is a twenty‐four hour, 7 day per week telephone counselling service. It provides debriefing and support to remote area health workers and their families. The Bush Support Service has also provided educational packages focusing on managing stress. Recent developments have included on‐line counselling service, case management model and to the provision of professional supervision. It was established in 1997 originally through funding from the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service. It is now funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing and is auspiced by CRANAplus. The Bush Support Service is staffed by seven highly trained and experienced psychologists and supported by two administrative staff. A key understanding of the Bush Support Service is that both Indigenous and non‐Indigenous health workers comprise a particular group of people living in remote areas who have particular mental health needs. In short, due to isolation remote area health workers chronically face high levels of occupational stress. These same workers also face increased chances of experiencing discreet traumatic events. Aboriginal Health Workers face even more challenges. For example, many Aboriginal Health Workers live and work in the same community and this can cause stress due to conflicting roles. The Bush Support Service, coming from a position of Reconciliation and social justice, has recently commenced a process of critically reflecting on just how culturally sensitive and accessible the service is to all Aboriginal workers in health. The aim of this paper is to explore this process in its’ early stages. Key learnings from consultations with Aboriginal workers, particularly Aboriginal Health workers will be highlighted and options for themes for on‐going consultations will be explored. The paper will also explore psychotherapeutic ways of working on the BSS telephone line which does not exclude Indigenous callers. Firstly I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land where we are now and to acknowledge the relationship that these traditional owners hold to this land. If you conceptualise an organisation on a continuum with “racist” on one end and culturally safe” on the other, the question of whether the Bush Support Services (BSS) is “culturally safe” is a question that needs to be asked and then asked again. It needs to be asked despite the fact that none of the psychologists employed by the service, including myself, would consider themselves in the slightest “culturally unsafe”. Since its inception, BSS has used Indigenous consultants in a number of contexts and over the years we have attempted to recruit more Indigenous psychologists to the 1800 line. Indeed, all the BSS psychologists are very experienced with working with Indigenous clients and all “signed up” to work for the service for the opportunity to continue to do so.

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{2011ConsideringMO, title={Considering models of practice: challenges faced by the Bush Support Service in developing service delivery to support remote area Aboriginal workers in health}, author={}, year={2011} }