Darwin hospital accused of racial profiling in Gurrumul Yunupingu treatment

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The manager for Indigenous singer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu said he 'feared the worst' after his longtime client was allegedly left bleeding for eight hours at Royal Darwin Hospital on Easter Sunday.

Popular Indigenous singer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu continues to recover after being admitted to Royal Darwin Hospital on Easter Sunday as a result of an ongoing liver condition related to Hepatitis B.

His longtime manager, Mark Grose, told SBS on Tuesday that despite his client vomiting blood and the presentation of his personal medical records recommending treatment, Mr Yunupingu was left to linger in hospital for eight hours.

Mr Grose claimed racial profiling may have been a factor behind the medical staff's decision to ignore Mr Yunupingu's illness, which he claimed they assumed was alcohol related.

"There can only be two explanations: Incompetence or racial profiling," Mr Grose said.

"Throughout their notes, it was noted that he was a drinker and that his condition was related to drinking. It is not related to drinking at all, it's related to Hepititis B, which he was diagnosed for as a child.

"I thought it was the end. It was quite scary actually that this can happen to a person who appeared so unwell."

Northern Territory Health Minister John Elferink has called Mr Grose's claims baseless.

"I reject that completely and I think the assertion that they are [racist] is reprehensible and disgraceful," Mr Elferink told ABC local radio on Tuesday.

Mr Elferink said the hospital's records did not reflect Mr Grose's allegations that Yunupingu was listed as a drinker.

"Many patients are asked as a standard process whether or not they've been drinking as a diagnostic approach," Mr Elferink said.

"To extrapolate from that that they've been racially profiled is nothing shy of ridiculous."

Dr Robert Parker, head of the Australian Medical Association NT, said there are large numbers of Indigenous patients at the emergency department at the hospital.

"The hospital is almost like an Aboriginal medical service because 60 per cent of the clients at Darwin hospital are
Indigenous, so I think it's very difficult to talk about racial profiling when the hospital has one of the highest proportions of Indigenous clients anywhere in Australia," he told ABC local radio.

"Good medical care involves taking an appropriate history and doing an appropriate physical examination no matter what the person's race or culture."

Mr Gorse said the situation brings to light "worrying possibilities" of what can happen to someone with no profile. 

Mr Grose said his client's health is improving, but doubts that he will return to the stage anytime soon.

Mr Yunupingu burst onto the scene in 2008 after the release of his first album Gurrumul, which sold half a million copies worldwide.

He has gone onto release two more studio albums and has also performed live for the Queen and US President Barrack Obama.

Source SBS News

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