OUR FUTURE

Albanese Labor Government pledges $18million to South West Aboriginal Medical Service

Funding promise: SWAMS chairman Ernie Hill, WA Labor Candidate for Forrest Bronwen English, Senator Sue Lines, SWAMS chief executive Lesley Nelson with three-month-old Gregory Abbott. Picture: Pip Waller
Funding promise: SWAMS chairman Ernie Hill, WA Labor Candidate for Forrest Bronwen English, Senator Sue Lines, SWAMS chief executive Lesley Nelson with three-month-old Gregory Abbott. Picture: Pip Waller

The Labor party has pledged $18million towards an Indigenous health hub to service the South West region if it wins the upcoming federal election.

Labor Senator Sue Lines said the South West Aboriginal Medical Services project had been "a dream" for 26 years.

The two-storey hub would offer a range of services including primary health, community health, maternal and child health care, aged care and disability services.

SWAMS chief executive Lesley Nelson said the hub had been the dream of the elders and the community for "many, many years".

"Our elders have passed the torch onto us to carry the dream on - the dream to have a permanent place for our medical centre, for our Noongar people to call home," Ms Nelson said.

"There has been huge neglect across this Noongar region in terms of health investment - so we are so happy to have the backing of this election commitment from the Australian Labor Party.

"It will be a centre for clinical excellence, cultural healing and research and will create more jobs and improve health outcomes for Aboriginal people living in the South West for generations to come."

Ms Nelson said the South West Aboriginal Medical Service had worked "tirelessly" over the last five years to make the hub a reality since the City of Bunbury came on board in 2018.

In 2019, the city gifted the land known as Jaycee Park to SWAMS to be used for construction of the hub.

SWAMS then approached the state government in 2020 with a petition with more than 1400 signatures in support of the health hub, however the project has been awaiting funding for the last two years.

Labor Senator Sue Lines said SWAMS first approached her office five years ago in the hopes of receiving support.

"They've been spending $600,000 a year on rent, so which is money that should be going into providing services, so this will allow them to do what they need to," Ms Lines said.

"SWAMS is a dynamic organisation and is at the forefront of providing health and wellbeing services in the South West."

SWAMS has partnered with University of Technology Sydney which would help design the Health Hub in collaboration with Indigenous elders.

The Mail has contacted Liberal Forrest MP Nola Marino for comment.