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news - yarrabah agreement

30 July 2014

A historic agreement between Queensland Health and Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation has resulted Queensland’s first transfer of a local primary care service from the State to a community-controlled health organisation.

The official announcement was made at a Ministerial health summit in Cairns today by Health Minister Lawrence Springborg, Suzanne Andrews (Gurriny’s CEO) and Julie Hartley-Jones ( Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive).

The transition will result in primary health care services in Yarrabah being delivered by a local Aboriginal medical service and controlled by a board elected by the community.

Mr Springborg congratulated both the community and the respective health services for their hard work in bringing the transition to fruition.

“This indeed is a landmark development for the delivery of Indigenous health services in Queensland,” he said.

“It follows many years of discussion and negotiation, and is the result of a real commitment to the process from all parties.”

Mr Springborg said there is clear evidence from Australia and overseas to show that when Indigenous people participate in setting health priorities for their communities, and in designing and delivering health services, the result can be increased access to health services and improved health outcomes.

Ms Andrews said the transfer was a key step to self-determination for the Yarrabah community.

“It's about us taking matters into our hands and this is the best example we have of that to date,” she said.

“Community-controlled health encompasses all aspects of the wellbeing of an individual – of course that means physical wellbeing, but we have always believed that has to also include the social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of individual, family and community.

“Today is a time to recognise and reflect on those who have played a part in shaping health service delivery for this community, and acknowledging everyone’s hard work and sacrifice.”

Ms Hartley-Jones said Queensland Health and Gurriny had signed a deed of agreement for Gurriny and QH signed a deed of agreement towards the transition of primary healthcare services back in 2006.

“This has now become a reality after years of collaboration and commitment,” she said.

“Yarrabah is the largest independent aboriginal community in Australia and it is expected that our work in Yarrabah will lead the way for the rest of the State if not the entire country.”

Ms Hartley-Jones said the transfer to community control would mean the health service could be “more responsive to community needs.”

“This allows priority on service delivery that is respectful and adaptable based on the priorities and cultural beliefs of the Yarrabah people with a focus on tangible community outcomes,” she said.

“It is a hugely significant milestone in the advancement of health for community-controlled health services in Queensland.”

Media contact: 4226 3220

Last updated: 4 August 2014