Aboriginal health and well-being services in the region are about to be supercharged with an aged care facility in Bega being re-purposed into an Aboriginal health clinic.
The vacant Casuarina facility on Bega Street, Bega, operated by Sapphire Coast Community Aged Care has been sold to Katungul, the region’s Aboriginal community-controlled health organisation.
“We’re so excited to officially share with the community that we have invested in this space. We have so many ideas for this new premises,” says Joanne Grant, Katungul Acting CEO.
“It has so much potential to serve our local community, filling the many service gaps we may have here on the south coast.”
Residents of Casuarina moved out just before Christmas 2017, into new, more modern accommodation at Hillgrove House in Bega.
Built in 1979, the building is designed around four main houses, each house consisted of a lounge and dining areas with its own domestic sized kitchen and a total of 31 motel type suites where residents were provided with care and support.
For two years the well-loved and care for building has sat empty – screaming potential to a range of community organisations.
Under the control of Katungul since Friday (December 13) tradesmen are currently swarming the building getting it ready for its new future – providing health and community services to the Aboriginal community.
Ms Grant says the scale of the building will also provide an opportunity for Katungul to address community needs which aren’t yet being met.
“The thing I’m most excited about however is creating a culturally safe place for our community and a place the Aboriginal community can call their own,” she says.
“I envision the facility as a hub for dynamic collaboration between other like-minded services for the betterment of the health and wellbeing of our broader community.”
The past five years has seen Katungul grow from the strength to strength serving the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla through clinics in Batemans Bay, Narooma, and Bega. Plans for the future take in communities as far away as Young, Yass, Queanbeyan, Goulburn, and Cooma.
Katungul Chairman Ronald Nye Senior believes the new space goes beyond offering health and care services.
“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.”
The new building offers Katungul a 300% increase in clinic capacity plus the ability to offer both community services and clinical services from one singular location.
Currently, Katungul offers a bulk-billing medical clinic with outreach services including; dental clinics via a touring dental van, eye health services including Aboriginal eye health specialists and visiting optometrists and ophthalmologists, maternal and infant health services, National Disability Insurance Scheme support services, mental health support services including an in-house psychologist, alcohol and other drug use support, social and emotional wellbeing services and cultural programs.
Staff are currently moving from their Gipps Street premises to the new Bega Street site; despite the heavy loads being lifted and shifted, all staff are wearing big smiles and are buzzing about the opportunity the Casurina building offers.
Services from Bega Street will start on January 6 with a smoking ceremony on January 15.