A commitment to providing social justice to our Indigenous communities is all in a day’s work for Department of Human Services Business Development Officer, Sharon Mercer.
Sharon has been working closely with the Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) to increase online claims for the department’s Indigenous Medicare customers.
“A couple of years ago, I went to the Redfern AMS and noticed they hadn’t made any Medicare claims for critical podiatry services for Indigenous diabetic customers,” she said.
“The local hospital was providing a podiatrist and billing the AMS for them to be there which was causing a huge financial burden for the AMS.
Sharon was able to investigate and quickly found a simple answer to why this was happening.
“It turned out that while the AMS had everything set up, they just didn’t know what to do,” Sharon explained.
“I was able to train them in the claiming process and arranged for them to bill Medicare for these services. Twelve months later, they had regained their financial stability.”
Sharon’s efforts have had a huge impact on the Redfern community.
She’s helped to resurrect a vital Indigenous community health service while forging a strong bond between them and the department.
“I’m very passionate about improving the health outcomes for our Indigenous Australians, so I took it upon myself to investigate other Indigenous-focused businesses that haven’t been processing their claims.”
“Sometimes, it’s just a software issue, but mostly people are hesitant to lodge claims because they don’t know how and are worried that they may make a mistake.
Sharon spends a large part of her day listening to people’s experiences which provides her opportunities to explain how she can help.
“Seeing those practices, that previously didn’t lodge, transmit or start electronic claiming gives me a thrill because that means the system is working, and helping some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.”
Aware of the impact and importance of her work, Sharon also invests a lot of time into mentoring and training newer colleagues.
“I often bring them along with me to meet the people we help, as I’m a big believer in on-the-job experience,” she explained.
“I’m told my enthusiasm for my role and the knowledge I bring to it makes me a good role model.
“But for me, I just feel honoured to do a job I love and that I’m passionate about. The sense of achievement I get when we have those breakthrough moments is massive.”
Sharon’s commitment to her role saw her win a Department of Human Services’ Individual Achievement in Indigenous Servicing Award during this year’s NAIDOC Week.
Read more information about Medicare services for Indigenous Australians.