Carbal Medical Centre
Knowledge Circle Practice Profiles


Practice focus

The use of an intergrated service delivery approach that is led and guided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Delivered by

Darling Downs Shared Care Incorporated, trading as Carbal Medical Centre: an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Care Organisation.

The information provided for this Promising Practice Practice Profile was supplied by the Chief Executive Officer of the Carbal Medical Centre.

Service type

The service provides a full range of primary health care, substance misuse and mental health services as part of a holistic approach to service delivery. It is targeted at the whole community with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who make up over 76% of the service's clients.


Regional city: Toowoomba, QLD.


Carbal primary health care services are delivered by a range of professionals and workers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in and around Toowoomba. The need for this service is clear from the evidence base that shows a significant gap in life expectancy and morbidity and mortality between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and the broader population. The aim of the service is to reduce this gap by instituting more care plans and integrating the full range of Carbal programs with each other and linking them with other primary health care programs operating in the community, such as the Toowoomba Hospital.

Carbal offers a number of 'Health Service Programs' such as 'Strong Fathers Strong Families', 'Tackling Smoking and Healthy Lifestyles' and a range of maternal and child health, Indigenous child health and sexual and reproductive health programs. In some cases, a program will be delivered by a specialist, such as the 'Early Intervention Specialist', who provides parenting support and assists in the delivery of the Triple P program. The Specialist also maintains productive relationships with external service providers to facilitate referrals to support families with multiple or complex needs. In other Carbal programs, such as the maternal and child health services, a number of professionals work together as a team to provide support for mothers and their babies. In this case, the team comprises of a midwife, a child health nurse and a child health worker. An Indigenous Young Parents Support Worker also supports the team to provide cuturally relevant maternity and infant care and support.

These health programs are complimented and integrated with 'Carbal Medical Services', which include a men's health program, a women's health program, chronic disease management and a range of immunisation, podiatry, pharmacy, audiology and primary care programs. A mobile clinic is due to be launched in 2013 that will travel to areas of need and provide health services at the points that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders can access.

It is anticipated that health outcomes delivered directly to children and families will be translated into the broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.


The Australian Department of Health and Ageing (DOHA) fund 80% of the service and Queensland Health contribute 20% per annum. Queensland Health Funding has at this stage not been committed beyond 30 June 2013.


MOST promising aspect

The most promising aspect of the Carbal Medical Centre is the integration of its medical servies with its range of health programs that are delievered by professionals of the highest quality, including the Centre's doctors, nurses, Aboriginal health workers and health service staff. The staff work together with other primary care services in the community to make and accept referrals that will facilitate better outcomes for Aboriginal children, families and the community.

Other promising aspects

This practice is led by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Board of Directors and 20 of the 30 members are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent. The service focuses on the best available evidence and takes a strengths-based approach to service delivery. Carbal seeks to continuously improve its delvery of services in response to the specific needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as they arise.

Evidence base and opportunities

By taking an interagency and collaborative approach to service provision as part of a holistic model of service delivery, the Carbal Medical Centre is able to respond to multiple health issues experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in the Toowoomba community.

The use of Aboriginal staff helps to facilitate trusting relationships with clients and reflects a strengths-based approach that is shown to deliver positive outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The high proportion of Aboriginal Directors of the service provide opportunities for Aboriginal-led decision-making at the structural level. This provides the service with a good understanding of the specific needs of clients who share a similar cultural background. This not only reinforces the trust and rapport between the service and its clients, but helps to be more repsonsive to client needs as they arise.

Further opportunities exist to explore how health outcomes for families can be translated into longer-term outcomes for the broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Toowoomba.

Cultural relevance

Involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

The delivery of the service is guided by an Elders Advisory Group who designed the program's engagement stategies.

Cultural practices and materials

Cultural awareness training is delivered to Carbal staff.


The service is based on the national Primary Health Care model of service delivery that has been adpated to focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.


Evaluation status

The service has undergone an evaluation. However, no further details of the evaluation were provided as part of the submission to the Promising Practice Profiles.


Demonstrated outcomes

The information supplied shows that there has been increased care plan use and health checks by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients. Further integration of the various sections of the primary health sector has also been noted to enable the delivery of a holistic approach to health care.


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