We constructed the Kintore renal dialysis health unit - 'The Kintore Purple House'
A Rotary Australia World Community Service Project (RAWCS): Project number 30/2007-8
Woden Rotary partnered with the Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation (WDNWPT) and constructed a renal dialysis health unit in Kintore (in the Western Desert over 500 km west of Alice Springs). That useful community asset has dialysis facilities, a health-education centre, accommodation for staff and patients and other facilities.
This page summerises the background and progress of the project
Other aspects of the project can be found on the following links
Western Desert Health Project bulletins:
The Kintore renal dialysis health unit development story
The Rotary Club of Woden partnered with the Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation Inc (WDNWPT) to provide a fully functioning a renal dialysis health unit in Kintore in the Western Desert (over 500 km west of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory). The unit comprises dialysis facilities (for up to four machines), a health-education centre and accommodation for staff and patients and is a useful community asset that commenced operations in November 2011.
This project was in response to the critical and expanding problem of the dislocation of senior Yanangu community members (from the country around Kintore) with end stage renal failure when they have to go to Alice Springs, for life-long dialysis treatment, many hundreds of kilometres from family, community and traditional country.
This dislocation impacts devastatingly on the individual, their extended family and the community with significant disruption to cultural practices and the passing on of knowledge to those ‘coming up behind’.
The Yanangu people have a passionate desire of to return to their home communities for extended visits in order to fulfil their cultural obligations and to pass on their considerable cultural knowledge and experience to their kin. It is only in the context of traditional country, with the relationship with place, that these cultural practices become meaningful and thus allowing the full use and maintenance of the Western Desert languages.
The passing on of knowledge is critical in the Western Desert region where Aboriginal people have lived a nomadic and traditional life into the very recent past. A number of Yanangu dialysis patients walked in from the desert and had their first contact with Europeans as children and young adults.
Government assimilation policies in the fifties and sixties brought those people into centralized settlements. However, after a long struggle, they gained the capacity to return to traditional country at Kintore and surrounding areas in the early 1980s.
WDNWPT started performing dialysis in Kintore in 2004 after the Pintupi Homelands Health Service kindly allowed them use of a small room at the back of the Kintore Primary Health Care clinic. There was only just room for one machine. This was the first renal dialysis clinic in a remote community in central Australia.
That ‘clinic in a cupboard’ assisted some Yanangu people with end stage renal failure to return to country for extended visits. However, for most of those who previously lived in other communities throughout the region, there was no opportunity for returning home for trips longer than one or two nights.
In 2006, the Woden Rotary decided to change its major project focus from overseas towards a something producing tangible benefits for disadvantaged members our indigenous community. The project was to: involve all club members; receive community acclaim; involve the concerned community; and be a large-scale financial commitment.
Things happen when you focus your mind: Woden Rotary discovered that the WDNWPT were keen to have a fully functional dialysis and health-education centre in Kintore and began discussions with them. Woden Rotary wanted to ensure that it could develop the centre and that, when developed, the centre would be maintained and used effectively. WDNWPT wanted to have confidence that Woden Rotary would be a suitable partner and could perform as required.
In 2007, the Kintore Council gifted WDNWPT a large abandoned building next to the Kintore clinic for conversion into the dialysis and education centre. That was the ‘Blue Building’. [more photos of the building as it was]
In late 2007, Woden Rotary and WDNWPT decided to proceed with the ‘Western Desert Health Project’. Woden Rotary agreed to convert the Blue House into a building suitable for dialysis and health education so that WDNWPT could then install dialysis equipment, furniture and stores and undertake dialysis and health education.
To show their appreciation of Woden Rotary's initiative in starting the Western Desert Health Project, WDNWPT donated two paintings by local artists to the Woden Rotary.
Suters Architects in association with other Newcastle NSW firms redesigned the Blue House and its surrounds so that it would be suitable. This was done in association with: Northrop structural engineers; Marline mechanical services engineering; EDC, Frosts (hardware schedules); and Charles Martin (perspective drawings).
In mid 2008, Suters obtained approval for the redesigned building, from all the authorities involved.
From the end of 2008 to mid 2011, Woden Rotary, assisted by many others, undertook onsite construction and related work in a number of working parties that produced the ‘Purple House’ and surrounds. It includes a dialysis unit, bedrooms, kitchens, laundry, offices, medical storerooms, educations areas, weather-shade shelter and vegetable gardens. [more photos of the building as completed]
Progress depended on available funds from the Club and others and the availability of people to partake in working parties. Many organisations and individuals contributed and we received a small grant from the Commonwealth Government for building materials.
In November 2010, WDNWPT moved into the Purple House and started dialysis and education - with two dialysis machines serving up to eight patients at time. [photos of the Kintore renal dialysis unit in operation].
WDNWPT now has a substantial building in Kintore with room for four dialysis machines, community kitchen, education area and three bedrooms plus an outside ‘weather-shade shed’ and vegetable garden.
The new renal dialysis unit is a real community asset managed by the community providing a venue for dialysis and health promotion activities (to minimise the need for dialysis). It is enabling many Yanangu dialysis patients, who are significant community members, to return to country and reengage with extended family (walytja), traditional country (ngurra), and culture through dreaming stories (tjukurrpa), songs and ceremonies (tulku) and painting.
WDNWPT is working towards providing more renal dialysis health units in the Western Desert and educating people in how to minimise the occurrence of renal failure and other health issues.
Woden Rotary is continuing its involvement with WDNWPT in this vital activity.
Woden Rotary started with this abandoned building – the Blue House
We finished with a functioning renal health unit