Gulf Regional Health Service program in transition

News article written on the 16 Sep 2010

Oxfam is very proud of our unique health and wellbeing programs, incorporating local culture and views which have helped to transform the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia.

In 2004, Oxfam received funding from the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) to establish the Gulf Regional Health Service (GRHS) in Doomadgee, Normanton and Mornington Island.

Following a Federal Government review of all Rural Health Services, funding provided to Oxfam Australia under the Department of Health and Ageing’s (DoHA) Regional Health Services program will only continue until 30 September 2010. However funding for service provision will continue under a new Commonwealth program called the Rural Primary Health Services (RPHS) program. There will also be new funding invested through the establishment of Wellbeing Centres in Doomadgee and Mornington Island. DoHA has identified North & West Queensland Primary Health Care (NWQPHC) as a lead agency for primary health care in the Lower Gulf region. Oxfam has been working closely with NWQPHC to plan the next phase of the program and ensure that the most valued services can continue to be provided in Doomadgee, Normanton and Mornington Island in ways that work for local people. The new funding being provided to NWQPHC will commence on 1 October 2010, to support the continuation services being provided in community. Oxfam would like to wish NWQPHC all the best as they shape the future direction of the program.

The current Oxfam GRHS program management office in Mt Isa will close on September 30, after which NWQPHC will direct operations in Mornington Island, Normanton and Doomadgee from their Lower Gulf management office in Normanton.

Oxfam Australia has been working closely with NWQPHC and DoHA since November 2009 to ensure the most valued services currently provided by the Oxfam GRHS are continued under the new model. In these discussions, we have emphasised the crucial importance of:
• continuing the community engagement model developed by GRHS staff
• ongoing engagement with local health councils
• a transition to community control of health services in the Lower Gulf region

Oxfam Australia will continue to have a presence in the Lower Gulf region as part of our larger contribution to closing the gap in Indigenous and non-Indigenous life expectancy, health and wellbeing.

Read more about our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ health and wellbeing programs.