• An aged care facility in the far south of New South Wales is being re-purposed into an Aboriginal health clinic. (Getty)Source: Getty
An aged care facility in southern NSW is being re-purposed into an Aboriginal health clinic that will support local Indigenous communities with culturally appropriate health services.
Brooke Fryer

22 Dec 2019 - 8:45 AM  UPDATED 22 Dec 2019 - 8:45 AM

A new health service will open in a southern New South Wales town that aims to provide culturally appropriate health care.

The Casuarina facility in Bega was purchased by the region's Aboriginal community-controlled health organisation, Katungul, and will be up and running by early January.

Acting chief executive officer Joanne Grant told NITV News the new facility will offer the local community services that are currently very scarce.

“It is the one-stop shop," she said. "It is a very exciting time… the building is an opportunity to close the gap in those services and to provide more accessible services to the community. 

“We are going to work with the community to make sure it meets their needs, not just physical and mental but culture needs as well.”  

Ms Grant said that often getting a health check can be a vulnerable experience for many First Nations people, but the new centre would help make people feel more comfortable.

“A lot of the reasons people don’t come to their appointments is because they have to travel out of area or they don’t know what they are walking into. Regional services at times can be quite daunting,” she said.

The property has been vacant since late 2017 when the facility's residents moved to a more modern establishment.

Boasting over 30 hotel-style suits, Ms Grant said the space will offer services including general health care, immunisations, nicotine replacement therapy and chronic disease management.

Chairman of Katungul, Ronald Nye Senior, said the new space will also create a sense of pride within the community.

“We are confident this Bega Street premises will take on a new cultural significance for the local Aboriginal community offering not only a great sense of pride but a culturally safe environment to access holistic health services,” he said.

Currently, the target to close the gap in life expectancy by 2031 is not on track, but Aboriginal-controlled health organisations like Kutungul, are working to reach out to more First Nations people to create safe environments for equal health opportunities, said members of the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee.

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