World Health Day 2021

Today marks World Health Day, and this year the theme ‘Building a fairer, healthier world for everyone’, aims to promote action to eliminate health inequities and make a commitment to provide great healthcare access to everyone.

At The Royal Children’s Hospital, our Wadja Health Service provide culturally sensitive and responsive services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and their families, ensuring they have equitable access to our health care services. The Wadja team have the specialist skills and knowledge to provide support to families during their hospital journey. They run regular clinics with paediatricians and Aboriginal Case Managers to deliver holistic care that incorporates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients’ medical, social, cultural and emotional needs.

In recognition of World Health Day and as part of this week’s #ChampionForChildren profile, we spoke to Aboriginal Case Manager Zarayn Knight, a proud Kamilaroi/Barkindji man, to hear about Wadja’s significant role in delivering the best health outcomes for patients and families at the RCH.


What does a typical day at the RCH look like for you?

My days are centred on providing support and advocacy to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and families. One of my key focus areas at the moment is supporting multidisciplinary discharge teams (MDT) with planning to ensure the process for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is seamless and reflects their cultural values.

Zarayn Knight, Aboriginal Case Manager, Wadja Aboriginal Family Place

As part of the discharge process, I provide regular follow-up calls to patients and their families to check they are feeling well, safe and are linked in with our community supports.


Given the year we had in 2020, can you tell us why the theme for this year is so important?

In light of the pandemic, the theme of World Health Day this year resonates with everyone, and none more so than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the pandemic had the harshest impact on communities which were already vulnerable.

Unfortunately, existing inequities deepened and many people suffered disproportionately simply because of where they lived, their occupation, education amongst other factors. Reflecting on the year we have had, it is more important than ever promote good health and wellbeing across the whole of society and build resilience in all communities.

I hope that the theme this year, encourages everyone to reflect and put equality and inclusiveness at the heart of all healthcare decisions to create a fairer and healthier world.


How did COVID-19 affect the Wadja team and the care you deliver to patients?                                                             

While the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified health inequalities, there are also been so much progression, education and awareness in the last 12 months, and even the technology developments have even led to our Wadja team being able to reach more patients and deliver more services via telehealth consultations. Of course, there were still struggles as families faced new challenges we needed to quickly educate ourselves to provide the best support.

We also kept our team connection strong by participating in virtual bonding sessions, which was particularly beneficial for me as I only joined the team last year.

Every team within the RCH faced challenges during the height of COVID-19, and I am proud to say I think our team adapted really well and I hope to continue delivering these new services to best support our patients.


What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I love my job, and working somewhere I can provide support and health education to our patients, families and the community is something I am incredibly proud of. I always feel a particular sense of pride when I help families with acute admissions and they leave feeling safe, happy and supported.

I am also passionate about the RCH being a culturally safe space for our mob, and ensuring they always feel comfortable presenting at the RCH and receiving great care without feeling culturally unsafe or undermined.


What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I enjoy spending time with my family, friends and going adventuring on the weekends. I also enjoy keeping fit and healthy by going to the gym and playing sport with friends.

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