The Chief Executive of the Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council Paul Knight has been appointed as the first Aboriginal board member of COORDINARE, the South Eastern NSW Primary Health Network (PHN).
Mr Knight will also be the inaugural chair of the soon-to-be established Aboriginal Health Council for the region.
Mr Knight, has more than 25 years' experience in senior management, including extensive experience across Indigenous employment, business and economic development as director of several private businesses.
The South Eastern NSW PHN is one of 31 PHNs established across Australia and one of 10 networks in NSW.
Its region stretches from Helensburgh in the north, past Eden to the Victorian border in the south, and inland to Cooma/Monaro, Queanbeyan, Yass and Goulburn.
COORDINARE CEO, Dianne Kitcher said Mr Knight brings a wealth of relevant experience and local knowledge to the role.
"We are delighted to have Paul join our board and lead the establishment of our Aboriginal Health Council," Ms Kitcher said.
"As well as his management experience, he has a good understanding of the health system and has been a member of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) board for 10 years, including roles as on the Aboriginal Health, Finance and Performance Committee and more recently independent chair of the Audit and Risk Committee.
"He is also a past board member of the Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service.
"Paul is a sought-after leader within the NSW community with appointments to the board of the Illawarra Academy of Sport and has recently been appointed to the Heritage Council of NSW and the NSW Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee."
Mr Knight said he was excited by the appointment, and is looking forward to working with the Aboriginal community, local clinicians and the staff and board of COORDINARE to improve the health outcomes for Aboriginal people across South Eastern NSW.
"We know Aboriginal people face many challenges in relation to health and the key to successfully addressing these issues are through strengthening and improving the coordination of care by engaging meaningfully with consumers, local communities, and clinicians across our region," he said.
"There has never been a more important time to ensure people understand the importance in looking after their health and following health advice."
Ms Kitcher said the appointment and the formation of the Aboriginal Health Council will enable COORDINARE to strengthen its consultation and engagement with Aboriginal communities.
Read more: Manyana family face of Greenpeace campaign
"Aboriginal input and representation on our governance structures will assist us to ensure that decisions, investments and innovations are culturally relevant and aligned to local care needs and expectations," she said.
"Working in partnership to address unacceptable health inequities and improve health and wellbeing for Aboriginal people in our region is a priority for COORDINARE
"We are committed to 'Closing the Gap' in health outcomes for over 25,800 Aboriginal people on the lands of the Yuin, Dharawal, Ngunnawal/Ngambri and Ngarigo Nations."
Mr Knight, in his role as Chair of the Aboriginal Health Council, joins COORDINARE's skills-based Board which also consists of:
Richard Spencer, (Independent Chair). Part-time Commissioner (Social Policy) with the Australian Government's Productivity Commission.
Max Alexander, Deputy Chair. Former Chief Executive of Southern NSW Local Health District
Dr Vicki McCartney. Local GP and Chair of the Clinical Council - Illawarra Shoalhaven.
Dr Amanda Barnard. Local GP and Chair of the Clinical Council - Southern NSW.
Leanne Wells. CEO of Consumers Health Forum of Australia.
John Petty. Business and financial management consultant.
Patrick Reid. CEO of IRT Group
Chris Stolk. Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary at Peoplecare.
Professor Glenn Salkeld. Executive Dean of the Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at University of Wollongong.