The Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy, developed by the WA Government in 2019 advocates that “Aboriginal people, families and communities should be empowered to live good lives and choose their own futures from a secure foundation.”
One of the key principles of the Strategy is that services to Aboriginal people are accessible so that “they are not disadvantaged by geographic location, cultural and language background or access to technology.”
Creating Communities has been incredibly proud to be involved in a project that is helping empower First Nations peoples with the installation of telehealth and digital services to First Nations peoples living in remote Western Desert communities.
As part of our ongoing work on the Newman Futures project, we supported the engagement and design of the BHP-funded Staying at Home project, resulting in the installation of telehealth and digital hubs in Kunawarritji, Parnngurr, Punmu and Jigalong.
The impact that these digital hubs are having on Martu people living in these communities is profound. No longer do they have to travel several days on red dusty roads to Newman or fly thousands of kilometres to Perth for a doctor’s appointment. Doctors, psychologists, and specialists can now come to the communities online via telehealth appointments at the community health centres. Simple online banking transactions, licencing, judicial or Centrelink appointments can now be done on Country, giving these communities access to the services that the rest of Australia takes for granted.
The project, being delivered by Puntukurnu Aboriginal Corporation (PAMS) and Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa (KJ), was developed in response to keeping these communities safe during the CO-VID pandemic but it also plays a critical role in preserving the rich cultural heritage of Martu people.
PAMS CEO Robby Chibawe told us the project not only enhances the wellbeing of Martu communities with better health care but also drastically reduces costs associated with travelling to appointments.
“These people are part of Australia now. With the equipment and better internet, at least they can actually get high quality health care, including specialist care on country,” he said.
“Before, it could take six days to get from the desert to Perth for an appointment, which would involve hiring drivers and flights and possibly an escort if English is the patient’ third or fourth language.”
We will continue to work with stakeholders on the Staying At Home project to advocate for ongoing funding needed to ensure these remote communities have access to much needed healthcare and other services.