Featured / News / Community / 14th September 2023
Land Council locks down medical centre location
‘Maaruma-Li’, a Gamilaraay word meaning ‘to fix, heal or make better’ will be the name of a new Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) due to open in Coonabarabran’s former RTA building in Little Timor Street.
The suggestion to name the AMS ‘Maaruma-Li’ came from Aboriginal Elder and Coonabarabran Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) board member, Beryl Dowd.
Maaruma-Li AMS chairperson, Paige Dowd said the decision to establish an AMS in Coonabarabran originated after local Aboriginal community members identified the need for a service as part of the Community Land and Business Plan feedback, which is held every five years.
“The feedback was provided in 2016 by local Aboriginal community members, however, it was acted on in 2019 by the previous CLALC chief executive officer, Monique Galvin, chairperson, Naomi Stanton, and two board members at that time, Beryl Dowd and Margaret Leslie,” Ms Dowd said.
After observing the Coonamble AMS facilities in 2019, the CLALC then reached out to Paige Dowd in 2020 to seek advice from a health professional’s point-of-view.
The CLALC appointed and elected community members to assist in developing the board of directors for the AMS in 2021.
Since then, the CLALC and the Maaruma- Li board of directors have been working towards establishing the AMS, including three community meetings, with feedback provided guiding the establishment of the service.
On 27 June 2023, Maaruma-Li was registered with the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, and the organisation is now in the process of registering as not-for-profit.
As part of this process, Maaruma-Li has been liaising with not-for- profit, non-government organisations such as the NSW Rural Doctors Network and local government organisations including the Western NSW Local Health District.
“First People Disability Network is a national human rights organisation for Australia’s first peoples with disabilities, their families and communities, and have been very supportive and will continue to ensure that the rights of our Aboriginal community members are considered,” Ms Dowd said.
“Maaruma-Li AMS is in the process of applying to become a member of the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council and the next steps will be to apply for ongoing State and Federal funding for wages and operational costs to enable us to employ staff and provide a holistic, culturally-safe service with specialised programs.”
With a focus on improving equitable access to primary healthcare, Ms Dowd said the goal of Maaruma-Li was to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members.
Maaruma-Li and CLALC are now collaborating with stakeholders and are planning to provide outreach programs.
Ms Dowd said these tailored outreach programs would enable equitable access to a variety of specialists, primary health care services, and programs which are not yet accessible for Aboriginal community members.
Current CLALC chief executive officer, Brandon Nixon said the service was originally to be located at the old police residence near Mary Jane Cain Bridge, however, an assessment of the site found that the building would not be suitable due to structural damage, and because the building was unable to be made disability accessible.
However, CLALC has since purchased the old RTA building on Little Timor Street, where Maaruma-Li will be established in partnership with the CLALC.
Ms Dowd and Mrs Stanton have strongly urged funding bodies within the region to partner with the CLALC and Maaruma-Li AMS to further assist operations moving forward.
Membership forms to join the Maaruma-Li AMS are available at the CLALC office.