An SOS Call: Health For Those Who Need It Most

An SOS Call: Health For Those Who Need It Most

Jason T Smith

Physiotherapist

09/10/2018

None of us likes being sick or injured. We expect to be well. And why not? We live in a country with a healthcare system ranked among the best in the world. Our public/private healthcare mix with subsidised medical, hospital and pharmaceuticals access, secures Australia’s global position as a country with one of the lowest burdens of disease and highest life expectancies in the world.

Sadly, not all Australians enjoy this privilege of relative wellness. Especially not our First Australians.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have less access to health services than other Australians, and although they make up only 3% of our population, 58% of indigenous Australians live in poverty.

Indigenous Australians living remotely have a higher incidence of ill health and disability. Aboriginal babies and children are twice as likely to die as non-indigenous babies and children, and life expectancy for indigenous Australians is 10 years less than for non-indigenous Australians.

Physio, and founder of SOS Health Foundation, Jason T Smith, on an SOS Kids Culture Outreach on Country.

Physio, and founder of SOS Health Foundation, Jason T Smith, on an SOS Kids Culture Outreach on Country.

Clearly, this is not a picture of equality in the overwhelmingly good health of our nation. And it sends an SOS signal to those of us who can help to close this health gap.

As the entrepreneurs behind Australia’s largest physiotherapy network, the Back in Motion Health Group, my wife and I founded the SOS Health Foundation to make a difference.

SOS Health exists to help close the gap in indigenous health by getting physios and other allied health professionals to remote disadvantaged communities, so that through accessible, culturally specific health services and education, people can take charge of their health and wellbeing.  

SOS is an acronym for the confronting question of ‘Success or Significance?’ Which one will you choose? Our grass-roots non-profit organisation enables those who experience success in life to invest their time, skills and resources in something of great significance – the chance to have a generational impact in the lives of others.

A chronic disease like diabetes place an unequal burden on indigenous people. With 1 in 3 Australians living with type 2 diabetes, in our indigenous population, that figure is 1 in 2. SOS Health works on Palm Island (Northern Qld) and in North East Arnhem Land (NT) with local communities and partner organisations to help people manage and control chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory illness, kidney failure, and musculoskeletal degeneration. We reduce disease risk by teaching people to move better, eat healthier food, improve overall health literacy, and enable self-determination.

SOS Volunteer Physio Jasna training a mother in NE Arnhem Land

SOS Volunteer Physio Jasna training a mother in NE Arnhem Land

All Australians can be part of this solution.

For those of us in good health, with access to effective health care, let’s be aware that others are still suffering. SOS Health is a vehicle for those in the health and fitness industry to volunteer and support closing the gap in indigenous health. It also relies on the financial support of our general community who have means to invest in improving the health outcomes for those in remote indigenous communities.

Be significant. Close the gap. Save a life.

Join us as we give generously to those in need.

Learn more about the SOS Health Foundation here.