Indigenous innovation, passion and compassion

24 Apr 2015   |   Blog   |   Australia   |   Long-term Development

Tags:  Indigenous Australia, indigenous health   |   No comments

Sarah Brown with artist Patrick Tjungurrayi

Purple House is a great example of Aboriginal people identifying a problem, coming up with their solution, seeing it work and being incredibly proud.

Throughout Project Compassion, we’ve explored issues of poverty, nutrition and food security, and looked at how we can help bring ‘food for life’ to the world’s poorest communities. 
In a recent interview on ABC radio, Sarah Brown from our partner the Purple House, describes how poverty and disempowerment can lead to poor nutrition and ill health in Australia’s remote Indigenous communities. She explains that the best way to tackle these problems is through Indigenous-led solutions like the Purple House.

Kidney disease in Indigenous communities

Sarah explains that the rate of kidney disease in remote Indigenous communities is around 30 times the national average. But she challenges the common assumption that alcohol is a key cause of this high incidence of kidney disease. 
“Most of our mob have never drunk a drop of alcohol in their lives. Alcohol is not a major cause,” she says.
“It’s about dispossession, powerlessness and poverty. There has been rapid culture change in remote communities. People are trying to keep up. Basically, it’s about not having control over your life.”
“[In the past, Indigenous] people lived in very harsh surroundings. They had to travel long distances for water and food. They didn’t know when they were going get their next feed. And suddenly people are travelling less. They’ve got more permanent water and food, and they’re living in poverty, so often the quality of that food is not great.”

Indigenous-led solutions

"Our mob say there’s a lot that they can do to reduce the incidence of kidney disease in the future. But it’s all about being on country with family, having all of those important things that are significant to life around. And that’s much harder if you have to move to a regional centre to access that stuff.”
“In the ‘90s, …people from the far west of the Northern Territory were having to travel hundreds of kilometres to Alice Springs for treatment for kidney disease. It made sense to them that if they could get dialysis machines ‘out bush’, people could be home and looked after by their family and contribute to  community life. They painted some magnificent paintings, raised a million dollars at the AGNSW, and started … a culturally appropriate, community run model of providing dialysis care.”
“[Purple House] is a great example of Aboriginal people identifying a problem, coming up with their solution, seeing it work and being incredibly proud. And in an arena where it’s often bad news stories rather than good news stories, this is a great example of Indigenous innovation, passion and compassion and a project that gives hopes to communities.”

Listen to the full interview, ABC Radio National (12:45)

More on the Purple House 

Patrick Tjungurrayi: Beyond Borders

We are delighted that proceeds from a new book about Indigenous artist Patrick Tjungurrayi will go toward the work of the Purple House in providing dialysis and essential support services to people in Central Australia and beyond.
Patrick Tjungurrayi: Beyond Borders, edited by Anthropologist John Carty, celebrates Patrick Tjungurrayi, revered throughout the Western Desert for his strength in Aboriginal Law, feted in the art-world for the originality and power of his paintings, and respected everywhere for his stand against the inadequate health bureaucracy of central Australia.

Order your copy

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