A MARATHON 10-year fundraising effort has culminated in the state’s first remote dialysis unit opening in the APY Lands.
In what organisers have called a “completely fabulous” achievement for Aboriginal communities, the unit will allow members – who have been forced to stay in the city for treatment – to return to their traditional country.
The mammoth fundraising drive by charity dialysis provider Purple House and the APY Lands’ communities raised $500,000 towards the $3 million project.
It saw Aboriginal health worker Zibeon Fielding raise $50,000 by running a 62km ultra-marathon. Other fundraising efforts included Aboriginal artwork sales, Rotary Club donations and State Government grants.
The Federal Government kicked in the remaining cost.
The project includes a new dialysis unit in Pukatja (Ernabella ) and two homes for nurses based there.
It is the 18th unit established by Purple House, which also operates similar branches in the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Until now, the closest for APY Lands locals was a five-hour drive away in Alice Springs.
“It’s completely fabulous and I can’t quite believe it’s open and we’ve done it,” Purple House chief executive Sarah Brown said.
She says patients will be able to return to their traditional lands and pass on language and culture to younger generations.
“In Australian communities , there’s this vulnerable knowledge that has been passed on for thousands of years in absolute danger of being lost to us all if we don’t have opportunities to get people home,” Ms Brown said. “It’s all about having the right people in the right place at the right time. It’s not something that people can learn later – they can’t learn it from a book.” Dialysis patients must have treatment every second day, meaning those from the APY Lands have been forced to move to Alice Springs, Port Augusta or Adelaide.
The new unit will allow about 25 patients to gradually return home, either permanently or for extended visits.