AMA in Action
AMA President Associate Professor Brian Owler and Secretary General Anne Trimmer gained invaluable first-hand experience of the health problems afflicting many Indigenous Australians and the challenges of providing medical services in often remote and badly disadvantaged communities during a four-day visit to the Northern Territory.
During the trip, A/Professor Owler and Ms Trimmer, together with AMA NT President Dr Robert Parker, visited the Amoonguna community about 20 kilometres south-east of Alice Springs and the Wurrumiyanga community on Bathurst Island, where they met with locals and talked to medical clinic staff about major health issues, the likely effects of the proposed $7 co-payment and the prospects for further improvements in Indigenous health. During these visits, and in meetings with Indigenous health organisations including the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) and Darwin’s Danila Dilba Health Service, the consistent message was that further improvements in Indigenous health required a broad-based approach tackling the underlying causes of ill-health – among them poor housing, high rates of unemployment, poor education, literacy and numeracy, alcohol and drug abuse, family and community violence and persistent social dislocation.
During their visit, A/Professor Owler and Ms Trimmer met with NT Health Minister Robyn Lambley and Shadow Health Minister Nicole Manison, as well as NT Health Department Chief Executive Dr Len Notaras, AMSANT Chief Executive John Paterson, CAAC CEO William Tilmouth and Public Policy Director Associate Professor John Boffa. Dr Parker provided invaluable assistance in organising and hosting the visit.