NACCHO Member News : Walgett Aboriginal Health Service to celebrate 30 years of community service

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“For all that WAMS has done for the community, they should be applauded and recognition given for its many achievements during the thirty years “

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation chair Matthew Cooke today congratulated the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service ( WAMS ) for reaching 30 years of service to its community .

WAMS was established in June 1986 after many years of lobbying to provide a service to the Aboriginal community. The first Board of Directors moved a resolution to treat all people. Currently, 40% of our clients are non-Aboriginal. WAMS was originally located on the corner of Fox and Sutherland St with a staff of five and in 1989 moved to their current location in Pitt St.

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WAMS now has a staff of over one hundred (including visiting personnel) making it one of the largest employers in Walgett and they endeavour to support their staff in whatever way they can and offer personal and professional development with training to upskill and fun days to boost moral and comradeship.

Picture above WAMS CEO, Mrs Christine Corby OAM with some of her staff and volunteers

WAMS has since added a Dental wing (which also has a sound proof room for the Hearing Program), a Children’s Mobile Service and a Community Garden at Euragai Goondi, which was acquired during this time as well and transformed from an aged care amenity into a child care facility.

The latest addition was the Chronic Disease Building which was opened in 2013 by  Dame Marie Bashir and WAMS CEO, Mrs Christine Corby OAM.


The Community Garden was established to provide fresh fruit and vegetables to members of the community with chronic disease and a Bower Shed has been erected to enable the ‘locals’ that visit the garden to sit and chat with the children who are attending play sessions.

PHOTO ABOVE: Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service Co-op Ltd Sophia Byers who manages Community Market Gardens. Shooting Aboriginal health In Aboriginal Hands with Wayne Quilliam

WAMS was the first Aboriginal Medical Service in NSW to be accredited (1998) with dual accreditation by the (national) QIC and (state) QMS for organisational operations and General Practice Accreditation (GPA) Plus. This is a major achievement and WAMS recognises the ongoing commitment required to ensure these accreditations continue. The Dental Clinic achieved full accreditation in 2014 through the QIP group and the support of the Australian Dental Association.

WAMS now has five doctors who care for the community on a daily basis, a regular dentist, and many specialist and allied health services have been introduced that Walgett would otherwise not have had access to. Health Checks are held annually for children, women, men and the elderly where the majority of health issues are treated on the one day at the one venue. WAMS has for many years provided outreach services to Collarenebri and more recently, Pilliga and Goodooga and have auspiced the Brewarrina Aboriginal Health Service since 2006.

Having partnerships and collegiate working arrangements from a local, regional, state and national level has sustained WAMS operations over the years and in 2013 they became a registered training campus of the Aboriginal Health College.

To attract doctors and visiting personnel to Walgett, WAMS has had to provide clean and comfortable accommodation and private residences were purchased to achieve this. These purchases, along with the purchase of buildings for office space and the construction of new office complexes has aided Walgett’s economic growth.

2016 marks the 30th Anniversary of WAMS and they will be celebrating the week commencing the 11 April with an exhibition at the RSL of local artwork, a Community Day on Wednesday 13 April and  a Celebratory Ball to finish off .


Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service Limited  (NSW) and Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council’s) Recruitment and Retention Strategy


From 6 April 24 page Aboriginal Health Newspaper available free as a lift out in the Koori Mail or Download here

PHOTO : Two recent success stories are Eileen Byers and Glenn Sands who were recruited in December 2015 as trainee Aboriginal Health Workers and are undertaking Certificate III in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care.

Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (WAMS) has been providing health services to the local community since 1986. WAMS is also one of the largest employers of Aboriginal people in northwest of NSW. The organisation has always been proactive in recruiting Aboriginal people and over 50% of employees at WAMS are Aboriginal.

A recent innovation, the implementation of a Recruitment and Retention Strategy in collaboration with the (NSW) Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) has been successful in recruiting Aboriginal people into a range of traineeships at WAMS. The Strategy was supported by funding from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. The Strategy provides a range of support to Aboriginal people who have no health qualifications to apply for a job and if employed undertake training in a health qualification.

Two recent success stories are Eileen Byers and Glenn Sands who were recruited in December 2015 as trainee Aboriginal Health Workers and are undertaking Certificate III in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care.

Eileen is from Casino and has taken the courageous step to move to Walgett to work at WAMS. She has left her family and friends to take up this opportunity to study and develop a career for herself in Aboriginal Health. Eileen is already a role-model for many people having being accepted into the Indigenous Marathon Project last year and completing the New York Marathon. Eileen says that leaving her family has been the biggest challenge for her so far in taking up the position at WAMS. “I want to have a career in health and it was important for me and my family that I do this. Everyone at Walgett has been fantastic and I love working at WAMS,” she says.

Glenn was born and raised in Walgett and is a proud Yuwaalaraay/Gamilaraay man. After a variety of jobs, including working as a self employed sole-trader, and a member of the NSW Fire & Rescue, he made the decision to apply for a traineeship at WAMS. He chose to become an Aboriginal Health Worker at WAMS because ”I wanted to help my community.” One of the things he likes about working at WAMS is the training he’s receiving with the opportunity to improve his career path and each the peak of my career.” His advice to others in a similar position as himself is:“…be proud in what you do.”




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