South West Aboriginal Medical Service hand petition into parliament

Bunbury MLA Don Punch with South West Aboriginal Medical Service chief executive Lesley Nelson with the petition for Parliament. Photo is supplied.
Bunbury MLA Don Punch with South West Aboriginal Medical Service chief executive Lesley Nelson with the petition for Parliament. Photo is supplied.

The South West Medical Aboriginal Services is calling on the state government to provide funding which would allow them to build a multi-faceted and holistic Health Hub for Aboriginal and Indigenous clients living in the South West.

SWAMS chief executive officer Lesley Nelson said the hub had been in the planning stages for many years and now has development approval and was shovel ready.

"Despite many applications for funding, completed business cases, visioning documents, environmental analysis and DA Approval being granted, SWAMS is yet to be given a commitment for funding from State or Federal Governments," she said.

This week, Ms Nelson travelled to Perth to present their petition which has been signed by over 1400 local residents for funding to Bunbury ML, Don Punch who has agreed to present it to Parliament.

"Don has been a great support for this project as has the City of Bunbury." Ms Nelson said.

"SWAMS has outgrown our current facility in Bunbury and even after over 20 years of providing important culturally appropriate health care to the Aboriginal community in the South West and providing huge cost savings to the local public health system, we still do not have a place to call home, instead we spend copious amounts on rental premises.

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"We must continue to push forward and make Closing the Gap a bigger priority in the South West, as well as up North and in remote communities.

"We have a large Aboriginal and Indigenous population here in our South West and we cannot continue to be forgotten.

"Avoidable and serious health problems are costing our local economy millions of dollars every year.

"There are tragic losses happening here on our doorstep which can be prevented with appropriate services being given a bigger role. It is time to put money into providing infrastructure for these services."

The SWAMS HealthHUB aims to provide an innovative, world class facility to the South West with a major focus on technology and research which will capture data that is so sorely lacking for Aboriginal people across the country.

The health hub will include clinical and research facilities, administrative offices, dedicated maternal and child health facility and an outdoor Indigenous park.

The health hub will include clinical and research facilities, administrative offices, dedicated maternal and child health facility and an outdoor Indigenous park.

The service has a strong partnership with Dr Christopher Lawrence and the University of Technology Sydney will ensure only the newest and emerging health technology will be built into fabric and the design of this HUB.

Mr Punch said he was pleased to show his support for the project by presenting the petition to Parliament.

"SWAMS are to be congratulated on the enormous amount of work they have done to advance the project to a point where I am proud to put it forward on behalf of our local community," he said.

Mr Punch said further support was needed to get this project over the line for funding.

"I would like to call on local Federal Member Nola Marino and soon to be confirmed Senator Ben Smalls to similarly advocate for the project with the Commonwealth to secure funding support to enable the project to proceed," he said.

SWAMS has also been busy presenting to and lobbying local Governments in the region to provide support for the project and have seen very positive feedback and acknowledgment of the need.

"Our local Governments have been very supportive because they see the need firsthand. They see the issues here and they see the good work we do," Ms Nelson said.

"The time is now, or we risk the gap widening catastrophically here in the South West."

The outcome of the Petition will be advised to SWAMS once it has been reviewed by Parliament.