Health care in the far south

Basket making. Residents and community members are encouraged to attend a variety of group activities run by the corporation.

South East Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation (ICN 1550)

Cygnet, Tasmania: The South East Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation—or SETAC as it is popularly known—lies in the far southern corner of the island. For a long time this corporation has provided aged and primary health care to Aboriginal people living in the south-east region.

‘We’ve been providing aged and primary health-care services for our community for 20 years,’ says Faye Tatnell, SETAC’s general manager. ‘And because we’re based in Cygnet we have the distinction of being the southernmost corporation registered with ORIC.’

SETAC employs 33 staff across two locations. From its head office at 19 Mary Street it manages not only the corporation’s financial affairs but also all its aged-care services.

‘Looking after the elderly is one of the main things we do and we do it in a variety of ways,’ says Faye. ‘For example, we visit our members and clients at home, transport clients to social and cultural gatherings, and run craft groups and exercise classes. We work hard to keep our clients active and engaged in life!’

Enjoying lunch and a yarn at Eldercare permanent residence. SETAC is very strong on bringing together friends and family.

Many of SETAC’s clients mention that if it wasn’t for SETAC’s ‘Eating with friends’ service they would rarely get the opportunity to visit relatives or spend time with loved ones. SETAC works in partnership with Huon Eldercare, which is a permanent residential facility. ‘We take charge of the transport side of things so that whoever wants to visit the home can get there and enjoy a light meal and a yarn with their loved ones living in permanent care,’ explains Faye. ‘Our “Eating with friends” service works very well.’

Other SETAC clients express their relief that SETAC is there to fill the gaps when it comes to the management of chronic disease. For example, it organises visits from doctors, specialists and other health professionals.

From its second location on the Channel Highway SETAC provides primary health care and wellbeing services for the young and old alike. ‘Community support is what we do,’ says Faye. ‘We listen to our peoples’ needs and respond.’

Planting a vegetable garden. A group of Aboriginal students from St James Catholic College work on a joint project between their school and SETAC. ‘The project is about nutrition,’ says Faye Tatnell, SETAC’s general manager. ‘The students will use the produce in their cooking classes.’

This point is well illustrated by the corporation’s response to the spike in clients diagnosed with diabetes.

Noticing a sharp increase in the number of cases SETAC immediately organised regular diabetic clinics to help clients keep on top of their care routines. SETAC has also addressed ‘heart health’ in the community by conducting weekly cardio-rehab clinics and running individual exercise programs.

‘We keep a close eye on what’s going on with clients and the community in general through daily contact but also through our client surveys,’ says Faye. ‘The information we pick up allows us to meet our challenges head on.’

Other programs delivered by SETAC:

  • An early childhood program which includes a playground for children up to the age of four
  • Parental and Community Engagement (PACE) program to provide support to disengaged Aboriginal parents
  • A living history museum of Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Photos: All photos courtesy of SETAC
Top: Basket making. Residents and community members are encouraged to attend a variety of group activities run by the corporation.
Middle: Enjoying lunch and a yarn at Eldercare permanent residence. SETAC is very strong on bringing together friends and family.
Bottom: Planting a vegetable garden. A group of Aboriginal students from St James Catholic College work on a joint project between their school and SETAC. ‘The project is about nutrition,’ says Faye Tatnell, SETAC’s general manager. ‘The students will use the produce in their cooking classes.’