Below is an extract of an open letter that is being circulated to raise awareness of the plight of Aboriginal people in central Australia who are no longer able to access dialysis services in Alice Springs.
It is from Sarah Brown, Manager of the Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku, an organisation that provides support to Aboriginal people needing dialysis (more details on the organisation at the bottom of the letter).
She is urging people to write to the relevant Ministers in the WA, NT and Federal Governments. She writes:
Thank you for your interest in the plight of renal patients in the most remote parts of Central Australia. People from communities in the desert regions outside the NT border are no longer able to access dialysis services in Alice Springs. This has and will have a devastating effect on individuals, families and communities who have always looked to Alice Springs for their health care and support services.
The situation of Patrick Tjungurrayi who contributed significantly to the setting up of our community controlled dialysis and support services has helped us to highlight this issue.
The NT Government says they require the WA and SA governments to make a substantial contribution to service provision in Alice before dialysis can be offered to people from over the borders. They say that these negotiations may take a long time. But while governments cost shift and pass the buck, people are getting sick with little hope of receiving treatment close to home.
We need your help to let governments know that these people are not forgotten and this situation imposed upon them by the enforcement of arbitrary state boundaries is CAUSING GREAT HARDSHIP.
We ask you to consider sending letters and or emails voicing your concerns to any or all of the following politicians/bureaucrats listed below.
It would help us if you sent a copy of anything you do to this email too. This will help us to follow up with politicians and to keep you posted on developments.
Any suggestions, ideas, comments or lateral thinking about solutions to the problem would be gratefully received!
Thanks so much for your help and interest!
Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku
Sarah has provided the following additional background for Croakey readers:
The Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation (WDNWPT) began ten years ago as the Western Desert Dialysis Appeal.
Pintupi people from Kintore and Kiwirrikurra with the help of Sothebys and Papunya Tula Artists painted large collaborative works and held an auction at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. A million dollars was raised to improve life for people from the Western Desert forced to relocate to Alice Springs for dialysis treatment for End Stage Renal Failure.
All indigenous people in the Western Desert are eligible to be members of the organisation. As a model of good governance, WDNWPT has twelve elected directors from across the region. They are community leaders and respected community members. Our chairperson is Marlene Spencer, Senior Health Worker at Pintupi Homelands Health Service. Meetings are held regularly and Directors, patients and family members take an active part in running the organisation.
For five years WDNWPT has had a nurse and a dialysis machine in Kintore. This has enabled people to return home to country and family. WDNWPT also has a house in Alice Springs (The Purple House), with two machines enabling us to teach self care dialysis and provide a range of social and cultural activities aimed at improving quality of life and contributing to the Alice Springs community.
Our committee is proud of what it has achieved thus far but devastated that they are no longer able to offer the services of the organisation to people from across the border in WA who are their family because of the NT government’s ban on dialysis patients from WA coming to Alice.