As preparations continue for the South West Aboriginal Medical Service’s 20th anniversary, centre chief executive officer Lesley Nelson has reflected on how far indigenous health has advanced in the South West in that time.
Ms Nelson said the centre started small with a handful of staff and a desire to improve Aboriginal health outcomes in the region.
Over the next 20 years, it expanded with clinics in Bunbury, Busselton, Manjimup, Collie and Brunswick.
“We started after local elders held discussions with a number of key groups about developing a culturally appropriate service to address the health-related issues of the South West’s Indigenous population,” she said.
“Since then we’ve gone from strength-to-strength, offering a number of employment opportunities in the sector, training programs and improved health outcomes.”
Ms Nelson said the local service played an important role in the community.
“Being based in a number of country towns ensured locals can access our services conveniently, especially if they lack transport options to the bigger cities,” she said.
“We offer an important service because we intervene and manage issues early on and slowly we are improving the health of the South West Noongar people.
“We are also standing out nationally when it comes to maternal and child health.”
Moving forward, SWAMS are keen to continue growing, participating in more research studies and working collaboratively with other similar services to offer a whole of community approach to improved health.
They are also looking forward to celebrating their 20th anniversary gala night at Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre on December 16 from 6.30pm with entertainment by The Merindas and comedian Kevin Kropinyeri.
Gala tickets can be purchased from trybooking.com/329821 or with cash only from the SWAMS administration building located at 3/30 Wellington Street, Bunbury.