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Married to the Mob: Clare Dimer at DFTB18


Clare Dimer is a senior social worker in WA’s Department of Health. In this talk, she discusses the challenges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders face today.

At the beginning of the 18th century, there were over 250 languages spoken in Australia. By the start of this century, only 150 are in daily use.  Language and culture play a huge part in healthcare, and an understanding of this should help inform how we – as doctors, nurses, and social workers – can help our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

In a captivating presentation at DFTB18, Claire Dimer delved into the challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families within the healthcare system, offering insights into cultural sensitivity and strategies for engaging with this community. With a personal touch and a wealth of experience, Claire shared stories that shed light on the barriers and issues Aboriginal people encounter while emphasizing the importance of a culturally safe and sensitive practice model.

Understanding the Cultural Landscape

Claire shares her personal journey married into a culturally rich family, where she learned about kinship systems, communication styles, and the significance of understanding and respecting diverse cultures. Her story highlights the acceptance and sense of belonging that were immediately extended to her upon entering her husband’s family, emphasizing the significance of kinship systems in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

Navigating Racial Profiling and Bias

Racial bias can affect everyday interactions, such as being pulled over by the police because an Aboriginal person couldn’t possibly own a luxury car. Claire’s story highlights the importance of addressing racial profiling and recognizing the role of privilege in shaping individuals’ experiences.

Communication, Empathy, and Engagement

Claire offered valuable insights into effective communication and engagement with Aboriginal families in a healthcare setting. She stressed the significance of visual cues, body language, and the need for active listening to truly understand patients’ concerns. Claire emphasized that culturally safe and sensitive practices involve creating an atmosphere of trust and respect. She pointed out the importance of giving families time to process information and acknowledging that silence is an integral part of Aboriginal conversations.

Bridging Gaps through Empathy and Understanding

We need to engage in culturally competent practices and understand the cultural nuances and the impact of situational and cultural issues on patient experiences. We must build rapport with Aboriginal families, especially when circumstances may involve displacement or separation from their communities.

Lessons for Culturally Competent Care

Claire Dimer’s presentation sheds light on the challenges and experiences faced by Aboriginal families within healthcare settings. This talk serves as a reminder that healthcare providers are responsible for fostering environments that value diversity, respecting cultural practices, and ensuring that patients from all walks of life receive equitable and compassionate care.

As healthcare continues to evolve, embracing cultural competence becomes increasingly essential. We need to create a healthcare system that not only provides medical treatment but also acknowledges every patient’s individual experiences, backgrounds, and needs, regardless of their cultural heritage.

This talk was recorded live at DFTB18 in Melbourne, Australia. With the theme of ‘Science and Story,’ we pushed our speakers to step out of their comfort zones and consider why we do what we do. Caring for children is about acquiring scientific knowledge and looking beyond a diagnosis or clinical conundrum at the patient and their families.

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Selected references

Braithwaite J, Hibbert PD, Jaffe A, White L, Cowell CT, Harris MF, Runciman WB, Hallahan AR, Wheaton G, Williams HM, Murphy E. Quality of health care for children in Australia, 2012-2013. Jama. 2018 Mar 20;319(11):1113-24.

McGlynn EA, Asch SM, Adams J, Keesey J, Hicks J, DeCristofaro A, Kerr EA. The quality of health care delivered to adults in the United States. New England journal of medicine. 2003 Jun 26;348(26):2635-45.

Nolan T, Resar R, Haraden C, Griffin F, Gordon A. Improving the Reliability of Health Care. Institute for Healthcare Improvement 2004.

O’Brien M. Leading Reliability Improvement for Safer Healthcare. The Cognitive Institute, 2015.


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1 thought on “Married to the Mob: Clare Dimer at DFTB18”

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