NACCHO Aboriginal #Kidney Health #IGA2016 : Western Desert Dialysis mob take out major Indigenous Governance Award


On Thursday night Western Desert Dialysis took out the top award at the 2016 Indigenous Governance Awards, announced at a ceremony in Sydney.

Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation, also known as Western Desert Dialysis.

Our mission is to improve the lives of people with renal failure, reunite families and reduce the incidence of kidney disease in our communities.

 Run by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people and work to provide culturally appropriate dialysis services in remote communities, helping people to get home to country and family.

NACCHO chair Matthew Cooke on behalf of all 150 members congratulates Western Desert Dialysis  and all the finalists ( see list below )

Watch these videos here


Western Desert Dialysis helping Indigenous people in ‘kidney disease capital of the world’ By Tom Maddocks    Photo above Kirstie Parker


Photo: Western Desert Dialysis has treated some patients like Josephine Woods (R) for years. (ABC News: Tom Maddocks)

Morgan Hitchcock from Western Desert Dialysis does not mince words on why his organisation is so badly needed in Central Australia.

“This is the kidney disease capital of the world and Aboriginal people bear the burden the most,” he said.

Mr Hitchcock is the business manager at the charity, which sends out a mobile dialysis treatment centre, known as the Purple Truck, to those who need it in remote communities.

He knows better than most why it makes such a difference.

“We respect traditional treatment for sickness but we also adopt the best of Western medicine,” he said.

About the awards


The Finalists


Fears people could die without treatment

There is no cure for kidney disease, and the only reliable treatment is dialysis or a transplant. Patients with renal disease need treatment three times a week.

People develop kidney disease because of chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes, which is rife among Aboriginal people.

Before the Western Desert Dialysis service was available, patients had to travel from remote communities to Alice Springs to get the vital treatment they needed.

For some it was a difficult trip and many feared they would die.

Now people know they can get help in their own communities from the mobile treatment centre.

The service began with the simple desire to get a dialysis machine to the remote Western Desert community of Kintore, on the border with Western Australia, but the idea grew into something much bigger.

Mr Hitchcock said the Federal Government did not initially believe the service would work and it would be a waste of money, but it defied the odds.

“It’s talking about something sad, talking about kidney disease, but then it’s also an inspiring story about the way Aboriginal people, people from the desert, got together, raised some money and started their own organisation,” Mr Hitchcock said.

“Government is on board now but the organisation started from nothing when government said they weren’t going to help.”

Group uses traditional and Western treatments

Morgan Hitchcock from Western Desert Dialysis

At the group’s main office in Alice Springs, known as Purple House, patients can access a doctor and social support services.

They can also see traditional healers, known as Ngangkaris, and use bush medicine.

Josephine Woods, who has been receiving dialysis treatment at Purple House for many years, said it was “good for people from different kinds of tribes”.

“Patients will be sent home if they get homesick to visit family, get treatment and come back to Alice Springs,” she said.

Ms Woods is also part of a consumer group of patients who regularly meet with service providers.

“It’s good to know about renal patients and how they treat them,” she said

Press Release

Reconciliation Australia in partnership with BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities, tonight revealed the winners of the Indigenous Governance Awards 2016 and celebrated the strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led organisations and projects across Australia.

Following a rigorous judging process, Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation (Western Desert Dialysis) was selected as the winner of the Category A Award for incorporated organisations, while Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly (Murdi Paaki) was honoured as winner of the Category B Award for non-incorporated projects.

Commenting on Category A winner, Western Desert Dialysis, Chair of the Indigenous Governance Awards, Professor Mick Dodson, said: “It’s their humanity that stands out in their governance. They strike me as a family that really cares for every member of that family in the way they deliver services. Aboriginal culture has been wrapped around access to modern medicine and allows it to be administered in a holistic and culturally appropriate way.”

Category B winner Murdi Paaki’s success “Comes from the fact they’re made up of community members, which gives them power to advocate”, said Professor Dodson. “They show leadership, vision, and fearlessness, and they are practicing self-determination.”

A highly commended honour was awarded to Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa in Category A, for its work strengthening Martu people’s connection with Country and leadership capacity; and Ara Irititja in Category B, for its dedication to digitally archiving culturally significant materials from the APY Lands.

BHP Billiton Chief External Affairs Officer Geoff Healy said good governance is critical to BHP Billiton and it’s engagement with Indigenous peoples around the world.

“Good governance delivers better, more transparent and accountable decision making and builds confidence in organisations and their leadership.” Page | 2

“BHP Billiton has been proud to support the Indigenous Governance Awards since they began in 2005. These finalists are great examples of the benefits that flow when good governance standards are in place.” Mr Healy said.

The calibre of the finalist organisations from which the winners were selected was the most outstanding in the twelve-year history of the Awards.

“This was certainly the highest standard of finalists we’ve ever had. They’ve all got the administrative nuts and bolts of good governance in order and are taking innovative approaches to community leadership. Across the board, we have seen the governance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led organisations improve exponentially and these finalists could teach non-Indigenous organisations many things about innovation and success”, reflected Professor Dodson.

Remarking on significance of the Awards, Professor Dodson said “It’s time that mainstream Australia takes notice of these outstanding organisations and projects, and adopts a new discourse focused on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander success.”

In total, $60,000 prize money will be distributed through the Awards. The winner in each category will receive $20,000, and the highly commended organisations will each be awarded $10,000. Additionally, all nine finalists will be partnered with a high profile corporate organisation for 12 months, which will provide mentoring and assistance in an area identified by the finalist.

– ENDS –

Winner biographies

Category A

Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation

Based in Alice Springs, Western Desert Dialysis is an Aboriginal community-controlled, not-for-profit organisation providing dialysis treatment and support services to Indigenous renal patients from remote communities in Northern and Western Australia. Their name means “making all families well”, and it recognises that people must be able to stay on Country, to look after and be looked after by their families. Their mission is to improve the lives of people with renal failure, reunite families, and reduce the incidence of kidney disease in their communities. Run by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people, Western Desert dialysis works to provide culturally appropriate health care for people in remote communities, helping people to get home to Country and family.

Category B

Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly

The MPRA is the peak governance body for Indigenous people in the west, north-west and far west of NSW, made up of representatives of the 16 Indigenous communities, Murdi Paaki Aboriginal Young and Emerging Leaders and NSW Aboriginal Land Council Councillors from across the region. The Aboriginal population of the MP region at the time of the 2011 Census was 8,331 (considered to be an under-estimate), or 18% of a total population of 48,797. It is the peak body for engaging with Government at all levels, and for the myriad agencies of Government to engage with Aboriginal people of the region. The MPRA’s major role is enabling and requiring a more strategic emphasis on engagement, responsiveness, co-ordination and accountability of Government and non-government agencies and the programs they deliver to and with Indigenous people.

Highly commended biographies

Category A

Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa

Based in Newman, Western Australia, Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa (KJ) was established to help Martu look after their culture and heritage and to ensure that Martu’s ongoing connection with country would remain strong. KJ’s programs include an extensive ranger program in five communities, a leadership program, a return-to-country program and a program of diverse cultural knowledge management. Together, they have generated transformative change across the Martu communities. The outcomes span a wide range of social, cultural and economic benefits to both Martu and other stakeholders, such as the state and federal governments. Since its formation, KJ has grown to the point where it is the single biggest employer of Martu. One of the less tangible but equally important successes has been the reinstatement of cultural authority of the Martu Elders. They have an increased confidence in their ability to shape their future and have responded positively to the interest and commitment of younger Martu to learn and fulfil their cultural obligations.

Category B

Ara Irititja

Based in Adelaide, Ara Irititja’s goal is to create a sustainable, growing collection of historic and cultural multimedia material related to Aboriginal people from or on the APY Lands in SA, NT and WA and to repatriate it to communities across these lands. Ara Irititja also record cultural material for the archive and play an active role in ensuring that the archive can be accessed effectively in remote communities. Ara Irititja project is about the conservation of memory in a culture based on oral tradition. This is memory that goes beyond most cultural imaginations, back before the invention of writing, and many centuries before the Christian era. Every Anangu Elder carries a story — one that has been handed down through many generations and our project provides a platform for these stories to be told. Keeping Culture KMS not only conserves this knowledge — by photo, by video, by sound, by documentation — but also, by its nature it allows these stories to live. Most importantly, it allows them to live with the people to whom they belong.

Indigenous Governance Awards 2016 finalists Category A – Incorporated organisations Category B – Non-incorporated projects
 Kalyuku Ninti – Puntuku Ngurra Limited

 Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS)

 Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre

 Muru Mittigar Limited

 Tangentyere Council Aboriginal Corporation

 Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation (WYDAC)

 Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation


 Ara Irititja

 Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly



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