Providing dialysis in the most remote parts of Australia
We first heard about Purple House, when Richard of Two Men and a Truck, donated money to Zibeon Fieldings marathon run, raising funds for a dialysis machine to be used on the APY Lands. What we discovered was a service that has been dedicated to bringing facilities to remote communities, in order to preserve a culture.
Remote Indigenous people in Central Australia are up to 30 times more likely to suffer from kidney disease. Families must move off their country and go to Alice Springs or Darwin for dialysis treatment. Communities are left without elder leadership, families are broken and culture is weakened. Patients suffer from isolation and depression, restricted by a dialysis machine for their foreseeable future.
Purple House is an innovative Indigenous-owned and run health service operating from its base in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. Purple House is a home away from home for these Indigenous dialysis patients. Now operating 14 remote clinics and a mobile dialysis unit called the Purple Truck, Purple House is getting patients back home so that families and culture can remain strong. The centres are located in three different state governments, which means that the Purple House is dealing with three state governments and the federal government.
After 15 years of hard work, this year’s budget has buried in it, a measure that will make remote dialysis a dedicated Medicare item, providing $590 for each treatment.Mr Wyatt – Minister for Indigenous Health said he knows just how difficult and debilitating dialysis can be, particularly for those who need to travel into regional centres to access treatment. “We’ve seen senior Aboriginal people make the decision to disengage from dialysis in regional hospitals and go back to country and die on country, this now changes that,” he said. Mr Wyatt said the expansion of remote and mobile dialysis treatment options will really help.
“I was in Darwin and I heard an Elder talk about living life and enjoying it fully until he had to go to Darwin and he said when he had to go to Royal Darwin Hospital he thought he was going to get a prescription and some tablets to return home,” Mr Wyatt said. “He said he never realised he would be married to a machine and would never return to country.”
On top of this injection of funding is the honour of Purple House being named the 2018 Telstra NT Business of the Year for providing a new model of care for dialysis patients in remote Central Australian communities. Chief Executive Sarah Brown said Purple House gave indigenous people with end-stage renal failure hope, by providing an in-community health service for people, who would otherwise have to move hundreds of kilometres from home.
“Families stay united, and traditional owners can look after their country,” she said. “We’re not just saving people, we’re saving a way of life.”
Purple House also took out the Telstra NT social change maker award. Telstra chief executive Andy Penn said Purple House had introduced a “game-changing model” to dialysis services nationally.
”Purple House has made a significant impact on the healthcare system, and on the lives of the population living in regional communities,” he said.
For further information or to learn how you can help preserve the worlds oldest culture, please contact: www.purplehouse.org.au