It’s been a long, hard slog, but from Monday the doors of the new Community Health centre on High St, Bowraville, will open to the public.
There was standing room only on Tuesday as elders, community members, Durri Aboriginal Corporation and Local Health District officials gathered at the freshly refurbished centre for a ceremonial handing over of the keys.
In her official capacity as chair of the Durri board, Aunty Al (Alison Martin), explained the intricate collaborative process that needed to happen behind the scenes for the community’s wishes of adequate health services in the area to be made reality.
This process took several years worth of intensive effort from the community itself, local agencies, multiple levels of government, Durri and local Land Council.
“I’m sure relationships can be difficult at times, but the end result can be achieved through a commitment to collaborate which is what we have seen here today,” Aunty Al said.
This centre is a visual representation of the catalyst for change that the State Parliamentary Inquiry’s table of recommendations was for the Bowraville community.
“This is a very significant day, not just for us, but for the community who have been wanting this for a very long time,” Durri CEO Tim Agius said.
Chair of the Local Health District (LHD) board Warren Grimshaw accepted the keys for the originally Durri-owned building and extolled the virtues of the new multi-level partnership process in working across cultural divides.
“This is a great event because it represents partnership,” Mr Grimshaw said.
“Bowraville is a wonderful place, and the fact that its community will be enhanced by this is just a remarkable achievement.”
The new centre boasts three mint-condition consult rooms, which will be used to rehouse LHD’s mental health, and drug and alcohol services which have been operating out of Phoenix’s Old Bank premises across the road.
LHD Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Services general manager Alan Pretty has said there will be three full-time therapists based at the new facility, including a highly recommended youth mental health worker.
In addition there will be a drug and alcohol services registered nurse available one day per week.
“One hundred percent of their work will come from this community, and the more the community adopts the services, the more we’ll develop what we offer,” Mr Pretty said.
Tim Agius said that Durri will also continue to have a presence in the new facilities with a family therapist already stationed there, and eventually, an Aboriginal Health Officer too.
“And once council fixes the drainage, we'll use the back space as a community area and designated quiet zone – for people to have time-out and a cuppa – just like the community has asked for,” Mr Agius said.
“I envision that this will become much more than just a health centre.”
For one Nambucca local the centre is already offering hope of a bright future.
Nineteen-year-old Liam Donovan from Eungai Rail will be the new face of the centre as a part-time clerical worker at the reception desk.
His journey in health services started when he was offered a place in the Elsa Dixon Scholarship Program –an Aboriginal cadet pathways program which saw him trained at the Coffs Local Health campus.
Liam said it “feels great” to be able to work in his community and hopes the centre will offer a safe place for locals to “come together and grow”.
For now he’s ecstatic to be offered employment at the centre, but he has his eyes firmly set on great things.
“Maybe one day I’ll be the CEO of Local Health,” he grinned.