Kidney action group launches in Alice Springs: Family,country,compassion and hope

Kidney Mob.jpg Low Res

Download press release,speeches and letters of support

Speakers Left to right: John Paterson (CEO AMSANT), Donna Ah Chee (CEO Central Australian Aboriginal Congress), Preston Thomas (Deputy Chair of Ngaanyatjarra Health / Director of Western Desert Dialysis), Sarah Brown (CEO Western Desert Dialysis), Andrea Mason (Coordinator, NPY Women’s Council)

FamilyCountry.   CompassionHope.

KAN Launch_NPY ladies

 These words, written onto a sea of purple balloons, were a poignant symbol of unity for almost 100 people who gathered in Alice Springs today to launch the Kidney Action Network.

 Those gathered yesterday – World Kidney Day – included representatives from Aboriginal health organisations, NGOs, health workers and renal patients and their families, many of whom have had to relocate into town to access the dialysis services they rely on to survive.

 John Paterson, CEO of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) said in his address that kidney disease affects Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory at greater rates than anywhere in Australia.

 “Its impact is felt most acutely in our remote communities, where the social and cultural structures and everyday wellbeing of our communities depends on the presence of our old people. We need them to be present as long as possible.”

 Mr Paterson called on the SA, WA and NT governments to work together with the Commonwealth and the community sector to “engage in proper planning and provide the extra services and infrastructure that are essential for a fair deal for remote area kidney patients.”

 “The Kidney Action Network has been established to put life at the front and centre of health policy here in the NT.”

 Bobby West, Chair of Western Desert Dialysis, also called on governments to work together on solutions for renal patients in the NT.

 “Instead of fighting each other, governments should be working together,” Mr West commented. “We just want to live longer.”

 Messages of support from Dr Mandawuy Yunupingu and Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner were read out.

 Most touching were the words spoken by renal patients themselves:

 “Every day I’m in two places. I’m here [in Alice Springs] for my family who are on renal but I’m also back home where my country and my family are. Families are worried for families. Governments should build something out on the lands so that everybody can be safe and healthy.”  Margaret Smith from Imanpa, NT

 “We are worrying for our families back home when we here [in Alice Springs] for renal. We cry because we lost our family here. We need something to help people to go back home and sit down with family. We been talking about this one for long time and we still talking. We are crying for our family. Lot of Aboriginal people they all got renal.” Janet Inyika from Amata, APY Lands, SA

 Also speaking at the launch was Donna Ah Chee, CEO of Central Australian Aboriginal Congress; Sarah Brown, CEO of Western Desert Dialysis; Andrea Mason, Coordinator of NPY Women’s Council; Preston Thomas, Deputy Chair of Ngaanyatjarra Health / Director of Western Desert Dialysis.

 The importance of tri-state planning – between Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia – was emphasized as one of the critical issue for the Network to lobby state and territory governments.

 Preston Thomas, in his address, summed it up very well:

 “Expecting people to seek renal treatment thousands of kilometres from home is not Closing the Gap.”

For more information, please contact:

Sarah Brown, CEO Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation
Mobile:  0488 685 610

Kidney Action Network Member Organisations

  • Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT)
  • Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation
  • NPY Women’s Council
  • Ngaanyatjarra Health
  • Miwatj
  • Waltja
  • WDNWPT (Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation – Western Desert Dialysis)
  • Central Land Council
  • Red Cross
  • Papunya Tula Artists
  • Uniting Communities
  • Poche Centre for Indigenous Health
  • Business Council of Australia
  • Baker IDI
  • Desert Knowledge Australia


One comment on “Kidney action group launches in Alice Springs: Family,country,compassion and hope

  1. NT rejects funds for dialysis centres

    by:Verity Edwards
    From:The Australian
    March 18, 201312:00AM

    A TWO-YEAR bid to improve dialysis services for indigenous people in central Australia has collapsed after the Northern Territory government handed back $10 million in funding to build two remote service centres in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek.

    Indigenous health bodies were so frustrated at the failure to respond to the 2011 Central Australia Renal Study, which included a tri-state agreement between the Territory, South Australia and Western Australia to provide better services, that they have launched the Kidney Action Network in Alice Springs.

    KAN member Andrea Mason, from the NPY Women’s Council, said dialysis services were at a critical stage in central Australia, with a growing number of patients in the three states.

    “We’re not going away; nor are the renal patients and their families,” Ms Mason said.

    “There are large numbers of people who have the need for dialysis who don’t have the opportunity of being at home.”

    The federal government committed to spending $13m on the two centres in 2011, after the release of the report, but took $3m back after the Territory Labor government refused to agree to offer the services.

    Under Terry Mills, the Country Liberal Party last week rejected the funding outright, arguing it should not be forced to contribute $1.8m annually for ongoing service costs. A government spokesman admitted the renal services were unlikely to be built because of the related costs. “We’re not hoteliers, we’re not innkeepers — we’re a government,” he said.

    He said the government was focused on reducing its $5.5 billion debt and hoped some of the remaining $10m would be quarantined for indigenous health.

    Federal Indigenous Health Minister and Territorian Warren Snowdon slammed the CLP government for walking away from the project, calling its failure to commit “an absolute disgrace”.

    “The CLP has a shameful legacy in failing to provide proper healthcare for Aboriginal people in the Territory and their decision to turn their back on renal services shows little has changed,” Senator Snowdon said. He said the government was considering how to reallocate funds.

    A tri-state dialysis agreement has also not been signed despite the study recommendations.

    An SA Health spokesman said there was a general cross-border health agreement, and a visiting respite dialysis service was operating on the APY Lands, which would increase next financial year.

    Land Rover – Defender

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