Remote health program on the move

Associate Professor Bruce Walker from Murdoch University and Jahna Cedar from Gumala.

A mobile health and education clinic for small and remote communities will be trialled in Western Australia’s Pilbara region — and it will even offer a vet service.

The Health in Motion program is a partnership between Gumala Aboriginal Corporation and WA’s Murdoch University.

It will be manned by health professionals and final-year university students and offer allied health care, veterinary services and health education.

The pilot project is due to start next year.

Gumala Aboriginal Corporation will invest $450,000 towards capital expenses and operating costs for the four-year project, while the Karlka Nyiyaparli Aboriginal Corporation’s Nyiyaparli Charitable Trust Board will provide $50,000 for capital costs.

The funding is in addition to a $1 million pledge and $250,000 cash donation that Murdoch University has received from philanthropists.

Gumala Aboriginal Corporation executive officer Jahna Cedar said the mobile clinic was a worthy investment given the high level of chronic health conditions experienced by Indigenous people in the Pilbara.

“Gumala is proud to support this ground-breaking trial that will see better access to medical care and better health outcomes for our members, as well as invaluable learnings for the students involved,” Mrs Cedar said.

“Statistics show that hospital presentations for Aboriginal people in the Pilbara are higher than other regions in WA and it is known that around 65 per cent of Indigenous people have at least one long-term health condition.

“For many of our people, the time, energy and cost it takes to travel vast distances to major towns can be a barrier to receiving health care.

“We believe this partnership will herald genuine benefits and provide a program that will self-empower our people.”

Health in Motion project director Associate Professor Bruce Walker said the clinic would involve students and researchers across all areas of the university.

“While the overall project is about improving health outcomes and knowledge with supplementary services, our aim is to ensure our final-year students gain real-life experience in remote service delivery and Aboriginal health,” he said.

“We want to deliver graduates who can deliver services free of racism and can carry this experience with them for their entire career.”

The clinic is expected to travel a circuit of 12 remote communities in the East Pilbara and operate for four years.

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