• Aboriginal Medical Service Western Sydney. (NITV) (NITV News)Source: NITV News
A Western Sydney local says he's feeling the impact now that the region's Aboriginal health service has closed.
Source:
The Point
31 Mar 2016 - 9:15 PM  UPDATED 31 Mar 2016 - 9:15 PM

For 28 years, the Western Sydney population was served by an Aboriginal Health Service, but all that changed in 2015 when the service closed.

There were around 11,000 Indigenous people using the service, a comprehensive allied health provider assisting with everything from vaccinations to drug and alcohol support, GP and dental check ups, and mental health counselling.

What the patients didn't know was that the centre was drowning in $4 million of debt, including a $2 million tax bill, according to media reports.

In July last year, the Federal Government shut the service down, and former clients, such as Jay Brooks, say they miss it.

"It was terrible that it was taken away," Mr Brooks told The Point. 

“I would be seen a lot more quicker when I was going to AMS [the Aboriginal medical service], there’s a long process with the hospital, they send you around to about five different wards,” says Mr Brooks.

He also says he considered the rapport between him and medical workers as important.

“It’s just the trust there,” he says.

An interim health service was set up in the same building at Mt Druitt in August, 2015 with the support of the NSW and Federal Government.

But Brad Delaney, former chairman of Aboriginal Medical Service Western Sydney, says the services aren't enough to meet the community's needs.

"If I was to put a number on it, maybe 50 per cent of the services are being provided, so it really is only just getting a pass mark, you know," Mr Delaney says.

“But in our eyes, we don't really see that as something that is having that much of a positive impact on the community.”

The state and federal governments say they will address the gap.

In January 2016, NSW Health and the Commonwealth Department of Health agreed to a joint tender process, led by the Commonwealth, "to establish a long term Aboriginal health service in Western Sydney and the Nepean Blue Mountains regions."

And that: "A long term provider is expected to begin service transition in October 2016 and be independently operational by January 2017."