November 20, 2020
South West Medical Aboriginal Services (SWAMS) and the City of Bunbury have been working together to deliver a multi-faceted and holistic Health Hub for Aboriginal and Indigenous clients living in the South West.
“The HUB has been in planning stages for many years and has now achieved final DA Approval and JDAP approval which means this project is shovel ready.” Explains SWAMS CEO, Lesley Nelson.
Despite many applications for funding, completed business cases, visioning documents, environmental analysis and DA Approval being granted, SWAMS is yet to be given a commitment for funding from State or Federal Governments.
This week, SWAMS CEO, Lesley Nelson travelled to Perth to present their petition which has been signed by over 1400 local residents for funding to local member for Bunbury, Don Punch MLA who has agreed to present it to Parliament.
“Don has been a great support for this project as has the City of Bunbury.” Explains Lesley
“SWAMS has outgrown our current facility in Bunbury and even after over 20 years of providing important culturally appropriate health care to the Aboriginal community in the South West and providing huge cost savings to the local public health system, we still do not have a place to call home, instead we spend copious amounts on rental premises.” She continued.
“We must continue to push forward and make Closing the Gap a bigger priority in the South West, as well as up North and in remote communities. We have a large Aboriginal and Indigenous population here in our South West and we cannot continue to be forgotten.” Said Lesley.
“Avoidable and serious health problems are costing our local economy millions of dollars every year. There are tragic losses happening here on our doorstep which can be prevented with appropriate services being given a bigger role. It is time to put money into providing infrastructure for these services.”
Lesley explained that the SWAMS HealthHUB will provide an innovative, world class facility to the South West with a major focus on technology and research which will capture data that is so sorely lacking for Aboriginal people across the country. Their strong partnership with Dr Christopher Lawrence and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) will ensure only the newest and emerging health technology will be built into fabric and the design of this HUB.
Mr. Punch also expressed his support for this project stating:
“This petition is an example of our democratic systems at work and I am really pleased to be able to play my part by presenting the SWAMS’ petition to the Parliament for consideration. SWAMS are to be congratulated on the enormous amount of work they have done to advance the project to a point where I am proud to put it forward on behalf of our local community.”
Don acknowledged that further support is needed to get this project over the line for funding.
“I would like to call on local Federal Member Nola Marino and soon to be confirmed Senator Ben Smalls to similarly advocate for the project with the Commonwealth to secure funding support to enable the project to proceed.”
SWAMS has also been busy presenting to and lobbying local Governments in the region to provide support for the project and have seen very positive feedback and acknowledgment of the need.
“Our local Governments have been very supportive because they see the need firsthand. They see the issues here and they see the good work we do. The time is now, or we risk the gap widening catastrophically here in the South West.” Lesley said.
The outcome of the Petition will be advised to SWAMS once it has been reviewed by Parliament.
Photo: Don Punch MLA and SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson at Parliament House with the Petition for funding for the new SWAMS HealthHUB
For media enquiries please contact SWAMS Public Relations Officer, Cassandra Budge on (08) 9797 8111.