$1.5 million federal grant secures Indigenous health centre’s future

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The Federal Government has provided a crucial $1.5 million grant to the University of Newcastle’s Gomeroi gaaynggal health centre at Tamworth and Walgett, enabling it to continue operating beyond the end of 2016.

Deputy Prime Minister and Member for New England Barnaby Joyce made the announcement this morning on behalf of Senator Nigel Scullion, Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, after helping to secure the funds through the Commonwealth’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

Mr Joyce said Gomeroi gaaynggal was a critical long-term research and engagement program for Indigenous women in Tamworth and surrounding communities.

“This funding will ensure the program can continue to work with local Aboriginal mothers to better understand chronic diseases in the community and put in place measures to improve their family’s health,” Mr Joyce said.

“I have advocated strongly for its support, given it is doing a great job employing local Indigenous staff and engaging with Indigenous women and their families in the region.”

Since opening in 2009 the Tamworth centre has supported more than 250 expectant mothers, using Aboriginal art as the medium to providing ante-natal medical and educational services for a healthier start to life.

“It’s a highly innovative program that helps develop the skill sets of Aboriginal mums,” Laureate Professor Roger Smith AM*, co-leader of the HMRI Pregnancy and Reproduction Research Program, said. “It is transformational for families, providing a culturally safe place for the transfer of knowledge from Aboriginal Elders and health professionals to young mothers.

“This grant will provide stability for the program and potentially allow it to expand to other regional centres.”

Gomeroi program Director Dr Kym Rae, from The University of Newcastle’s School of Medicine and Public Health, said the funding would support a number of activities that engage and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children.

“Physical health and wellbeing is a critical first step to improve outcomes for Indigenous children through supporting their active participation in early childhood care and education,” she said.

Running in unison with the arts program is an HMRI health research study investigating the origins of kidney disease in the Aboriginal community and the pathways leading to premature birth.

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