Friday, 07 July 2017

Life-giving care on country

The Uniting Church is getting behind moves to improve access to dialysis services on or near remote indigenous communities.

Leaders from the APY Lands, Arnhemland and the Western Kimberley spoke at the recent Northern Synod about the importance of dialysis services being provided “on country” for indigenous Australians.

The Federal Government is running public consultations on a proposed review of Medicare Benefits, including renal medicine.

Under the recommendations it is proposed a new Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) item be created which would fund the ongoing costs of providing dialysis under nurse supervision in very remote areas.

The changes would allow organisations such as Western Desert Dialysis to expand their services around the Northern Territory, the APY lands and other areas.

Frontier Services Centralian Patrol Minister Benjamin Quilliam who is based in Alice Springs has supported the campaign to better fund dialysis services on country.

“Lack of access to dialysis on or near remote indigenous communities is a big area of concern, not only in Central Australia but also in the Top End.”

“Many indigenous people develop renal failure as they get older. When there is no dialysis available close by, people are forced to move to larger centres like Alice Springs, Darwin and Adelaide. This leaves a vacuum of elders on country which can significantly impact on the community.”

Rev Rronaŋ Garrawurra, former Chair of Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) said accessing dialysis in communities was life-giving.

“We need to be able to have dialysis in our communities, you must hear us now!” said Rronaŋ.

President Stuart McMillan urged Uniting Church members to support First Peoples in their campaign to fund dialysis services in remote communities.  

“I know from personal relationships that being able to stay on country and have dialysis adds years to people’s lives” Stuart said.

“Their wellbeing, both physically, psychologically and spiritually is greatly enhanced. This is a covenant justice matter for our Church.”

He encouraged UCA members to consider completing the online Medicare questionnaire about the review to show their support for the changes.

The survey is for anyone to contribute, including individuals, renal patients, future renal patients, people living on community, advocacy organisations, and medical professionals.

The summary advice will assist if you don’t have a medical background.