Remote Aboriginal Australians with kidney disease have demanded equitable access to life-saving treatment closer to home to prevent the removal of people from their traditional homelands.
In a report released on Monday by Menzies School of Health Research, patients and carers from across northern and central Australia called on state, territory and federal government health ministers to overhaul the system to provide more holistic care.
Report lead author Dr Jaquelyne Hughes says the current model meets medical needs, but missed the mark in helping Indigenous people feel connected to their country, families and culture.
Dr Hughes said they’ve “heard, overwhelmingly, of how people felt lonely, distressed and isolated following relocation to access treatment,”.
Some patients reported homelessness and desperation because of this disconnect, describing having to stay in the long grass when Darwin hostels are booked out.
A Torres Strait Islander said many sick people are forced to travel up to 1000 kilometres to Cairns and Townsville to receive dialysis.
Many noted the disease can fracture communities as elders become ill and are relocated together with their relatives, who miss out on cultural obligations and suffer disruptions to education and employment.
Dr Hughes said the only type of care available to most Indigenous renal failure sufferers was designed by and for people in cities at the expense of those in the bush.