Indigenous Health Worker Profile: Dan Carter

Dan Carter, Director, Aboriginal Health. Copyright Monash Health.

Name: Dan Carter

Your Mob: Ngarrindjeri / Wergaia

Occupation/Role: Director of Aboriginal Health, Monash Health

Tell us about yourself

Why did you go into the health profession?

To ensure health services meet the needs of our community.

Did anyone inspire you? Do you have any role models?

My grandad, he spent his life navigating the health system for his many siblings with chronic conditions, he raised the children of uncles and aunties who passed away quite young, he also had a business mowing the lawns of mob who couldn’t get out and clean their yards due to accessibility issues.

What do you believe are the major health issues facing Indigenous Australians currently?

For those lucky enough to know him, my grandad filled the void for services that didn’t meet the needs of our community. However there are many of our community who aren’t as lucky; those who experience intergenerational trauma on their own, those who are born into child protection, those who are born with disabilities, high needs, mental health issues and simply no supports to meet their needs. A lot Aboriginal children without supports in place to help families will have contact with child protection then on to juvenile detention then adult corrections and pass on the same trauma to their children. Many of these social determinant will always take precedence before a “health issue” and quite often the reason many of our community don’t access primary health services until their health issues accumulate into an emergency room visit.

What do you believe are some of the biggest barriers to closing the gap?

A lot of this can be addressed working up stream:  helping a young family; assess their housing, plan their pregnancy; employing an Aboriginal midwife to follow up client appointments, touch base with the maternal child health at a local council, engage a kinder garden, supporting teachers at school to engage our community, designated paediatrics clinics for complex clients, have greater engagement at our Aboriginal health services and hospitals that can respond to the needs of community.

Do you have any words of advice for aspiring health professionals?

If you are an aspiring health professional passionate about Aboriginal Health look for the organisations who orient their services to meet the needs of community. Look for traineeships and graduate opportunities, if you can’t see them: email a service and volunteer on projects you want experience in. If you can’t see the opportunities push for a need to be addressed and accountability to be established. There are millions of dollars invested in Aboriginal Health each year, find your local primary or tertiary services and ask them what they are doing to meet the needs of Aboriginal community with the resources allocated to them.

I started 10 years ago working for $7 an hour at a traineeship at a local council helping local sporting clubs put on BBQs to engage culturally diverse community. I do the same work now as a Director of Aboriginal Health at the biggest hospital in the state utilising those same principles to meet the needs of community.