WORKING TOGETHER: Marilyn Thomas of Helem Yumba, Sharona Kemp of Juwarki Kapu-Lug, Peta Steedman of Helem Yumba, Mark Warcon of Gumbi Gubi, and Thalep Ahmat of Bidgerdii co-signed the Murri Binda statement of cooperation
WORKING TOGETHER: Marilyn Thomas of Helem Yumba, Sharona Kemp of Juwarki Kapu-Lug, Peta Steedman of Helem Yumba, Mark Warcon of Gumbi Gubi, and Thalep Ahmat of Bidgerdii co-signed the Murri Binda statement of cooperation Jann Houley

Sitting down together to heal: the Murri Binda Statement

FIVE health organisations invested in fighting mental health and addiction in both around indigenous and non-indigenous communities around central Queensland signed an historic agreement today in Rockhampton.

The Murri Binda Statement, two years in the making, is designed to help healthcare professionals offer "the right care in the right place at the right time".

Representatives of the Bidgerdii Community Health Service, Helem Yumba Healing Centre, Gumbi Gumbi Drug and Alcohol Awareness Rehabilitation, Darumbal Youth Service, and Juwarki Kapu-Lug Ltd signed the statement at a ceremony overlooking Toonooba (the Fitzroy River).

Bidgerdii Community Health Services' CEO Thalep Ahmat signs the Statement of Cooperation
Bidgerdii Community Health Services' CEO Thalep Ahmat signs the Statement of Cooperation Jann Houley

Bidgerdii CEO, Thalep Ahmat, said the new model of service delivery was based on the principles of self-determination, workforce development and community education.

"We build the big buildings and say they will come but they don't, because of the stigma and shame surrounding mental illness, drugs and alcohol," he said.

"Now, no matter where people present in any of the five organisations, they will have their issues dealt with a culturally appropriate, Murri way."

Mayor Strelow said mental illness is battle which is never won but the statement represents a step on the way to helping.

"Every young person this statement saves and sets on a new path is also a family saved from the scourge of drug of alcohol and drug abuse," she said.

In offering a welcome to country, Aunty Nicky Hatfield paid tribute to all elders present, and spoke of her deep affection for Councillor Rose Swadling who announced her intention to retire from council next May.

"I call her Aunty Rose because she deserves my respect," Ms Hatfield said.

She congratulated the health professionals behind the Statement who "got their heads together and put out there what we want and what we need."

Mark Warcon, CEO of Bidgerdii Community Health Service said whole community participation was a way forward for all residents of the Rockhampton, Livingstone and Central Highlands regions.

"We've been practising health management for a very long time; it's in the best interest of non-indigenous people to look at some the models we use to educate and provide services," he said.

"They can take a page out of our book and follow it."

Mr Warcon said battling mental health and addiction issues would always be an "uphill battle" but the spread of knowledge through information technology was effective in promoting health initiatives.

"Some of our challenges include a transient population moving into areas where even basic healthcare services aren't available," he said.

"For someone with mental health issues, even the trip in from Emu Park can be too great a distance.

"Also, we need to target local institutions to provide appropriate and relevant training for indigenous healthcare students and students in the area of indigenous health in general.

"That that Aboriginal focus doesn't exist in our region's training organisations is a big failure."

Murri Binda means "sitting down, yarning and healing together."

The respective healthcare providers' facilities and staff are available to clients of all backgrounds, not only indigenous people.



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