Background: Young Australian Aboriginal people experience poor health outcomes, yet young people and Aboriginal people have low use of health care.
Objective: To identify barriers and enablers of access for adolescent and young adult Aboriginal people at Derby Aboriginal Health Service (DAHS), a remote Western Australian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHSs), to assist in improving access.
Methods: This qualitative study was in the remote Kimberley town of Derby and three Aboriginal communities serviced by DAHS. Semistructured interviews with 26 young Aboriginal people in 2014 and 2015 were used to identify barriers and enablers to accessing local health care services.
Results: Participants appreciated interacting with Aboriginal staff, local staff, and longer term DAHS staff. This improved communication and interpersonal interactions, which were reported to be of prime importance for young Aboriginal people accessing health services. Maintaining confidentiality, minimizing shame, and gender matching with health staff were also key issues for young people. Seeking health care was often based on acute need rather than proactive or preventive care; however, participants recognized that providing health education and health promotion should be a priority for the service.
Conclusions: A number of approaches to improving health service use by young remote Aboriginal people may be effective. Improving youth engagement seems to be central to increasing acceptability and, hence, use. This requires that staff able to engage with young people are recruited, trained, and retained. More immediately, a range of simpler changes to service provision focus and environment for young people could potentially make important differences.