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Child care centre for Aboriginal children

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Press Release by the Commonwealth M inister fog Health

Child Care Centre for Aboriginal Children

A special child care centre to improve the health of Aboriginal children is to be established in Alice Springs. The centre is expected to be in operation within the next several months* The Commonwealth Minister for Health, Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, announced th is today*

S ir Kenneth Said the centre would provide specialised f a c ilitie s for the convalescence, n u tritio n al improvement and reh ab ilitatio n of Aboriginal children and for training in child care for Aboriginal mothers.

The centre w ill be established in a large motel being purchased from Ansett Transport Industries and converted for i t s new use at an estimated to ta l cost of $275,000.

The centre is within half a mile of the Alice Springs Hospital and w ill be staffed and run as an annexe to the hospital by the Commonwealth Department of Health. I t w ill be converted to provide two wards with accommodation for 36 children and 16 rooms each providing accommodation

for a mother and one or two children. There w ill also be accommodation fo r a s ta ff of trained nurses and for nursing aides and hospital assista n ts.

In addition a s ta ff of 15 rural health s is te rs working in the field s of health education, n u tritio n and hygiene among Aboriginals in the Alice Springs region w ill be accommodated at the centre. , S ir Kenneth Anderson said the establishment of the centre was being undertaken as a matter of urgency to improve the health f a c ilitie s available

for the treatment and care of Aboriginal children in the southern region of the Northern Territory.

The children’s sections of the Alice Springs Hospital were severely overcrowded at present, mainly due to the attention being devoted to the treatment of Aboriginal children. This over-crowding was causing d iffic u ltie s in the treatment of acutely i l l children, such as cross infections in the wards.


The establishment of a child care centre would enable many children to be moved from the hospital as soon as they were over the acute phase of th e ir illn e s s , and at the stage where they required convalescent care and special n u tritio n a l attention before going back to th eir homes. This would allow the acute care f a c ilitie s of the hospital to be used to greater effect, reduce the risk of cross infection between acutely i l l children and those in the convalescent stage and enable the whole programme of health care for Aboriginal children to be upgraded.

Senator Anderson said that, at present, many Aboriginal children who did not need intensive medical care were being oared for in the hospitals at Alice Springs and Tennant Creek. They had recovered from the acute stages of th e ir illn esse s but the medical s ta ff did not feel they could be

discharged to th e ir home environments u n til they had reached peak health and n u tritio n al sta tu s.

The specialised f a c ilitie s of the new child care centre would not only help solve the overcrowding problem in the hospitals but would also represent a significant step forward in preventive and health education work amongst the Aboriginal pSople of the area.


30 September 1971ยท .

Dept. No. 52