Living with coronavirus- “It’s affected people in different ways"... Tanja Hirvonen.

6th May 2020

Tanja Hirvonen, a Jaru and Bunaba woman (Halls Creek,,Fitzroy Crossing) is a Board Director with the Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association.

Josef Egger caught up with Ms Hirvonen to discuss the current impacts of COVID-19 on First Nations Australians.

"Some people are doing quite well, getting busy, and doing the things they need to do. Some people haven’t been able to do the things they need to do, like attending funerals and visiting families.” – states Ms.Hirvonen.

As psychology is an essential service, service providers have had to change the way they work with people. Currently the only means of service has been via telephone and Telehealth, which is a service that helps individuals access health care services remotely via telephone and video call.

Whilst Telehealth has been great in connecting and assisting people who are experiencing mental health issues, its service can become limited, where "people have to have access to the internet and a phone", states Ms. Hirvonen.

Ms.Hirvonen a prominent advocate for First Nations health, strongly believes in the social and emotional well being model, which is the holistic way of looking at Aboriginal health. It encompasses the social, emotional, cultural and spiritual well being of a person. “It’s about being connected; to yourself, home, community, culture, and spirituality… It's a holistic way of looking at health."

"Systems are changing within psychology to recognize and better equip psychologists to be working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

"There is another psychology, Indigenous psychology." – states Ms. Hirvonen.