• Ken Wyatt at the launch of AHTV in Bunbury, 100 more locations are expected to have the network by May. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
A new television network promoting Aboriginal health will broadcast in the waiting rooms of medical centres across the country.
Rangi Hirini

18 Jan 2019 - 12:42 PM  UPDATED 18 Jan 2019 - 12:47 PM

A new Aboriginal television network focused on Indigenous health was unveiled in Bunbury, Western Australia earlier this week. 

Indigenous Health Minister, Ken Wyatt, announced the launch of Aboriginal Health Television (AHTV), a culturally appropriate network dedicated to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The channel will be screened in up to 300 Aboriginal Medical Service facilities across the country, reaching an audience of 1.2 million people per month. 

Before a small gathering at the launch, Mr Wyatt described the network as a "unique, ground-up opportunity" to promote the health and well-being of Indigenous Australians and our communities.

“The new network is an exciting step forward, built on local engagement, including local production of health and well-being stories, to reach the hearts and minds of our people and our families,” said Mr Wyatt.

The federal government has committed $3.4 million to the project over the next three years.

South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) in Bunbury was the first medical service in the country to switch on the network.

SWAMS chief executive, Lesley Nelson, stressed th importance of health promotion and encouraged more medical services to get involved. 

“The fact that the content has been tailored to suit our local Aboriginal community means that clients will benefit from health information that is relevant, culturally sensitive and meaningful to them,” she said.

The health network will include social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.

Tonic Health Media is helping develop the channel and it co-founder, Dr Norman Swan, said they intend on producing a range of engaging content for patients waiting for their appointment. 

The network will tackle some of the most common health issues suffered by First Nation’s people and educate audiences on smoking, eye and ear checks, sexual health, diabetes, and drugs and alcohol treatment services.

“We have evidence that this period in the waiting area is a time when people are most open to information which can improve their health and offer relevant questions to ask their health professional when they see them,” said Dr  Swan.

Aboriginal health leaders and researches will also work closely with Aboriginal Peak Health Bodies and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) to guide AHTV.