Three years ago, in “DESPERATELY SEEKING DOCTORS”, feisty and outspoken Scottish GP Dr Mary Fortune answered an urgent call to help ease the shortage of doctors in regional Western Australia. Her brief encounter with Aboriginal health touched a nerve. So now she’s back for a three month stint in an Aboriginal health service in Kununurra in the remote rugged and scenic North West of Australia. In “DESPERATELY SEEKING DOCTORS – The Kimberley” Dr Mary brings a brave heart and a fresh eye to the challenges of Australian health care.
Working at the Ord Valley Aboriginal Health Service (OVAHS) in Kununurra and dealing with upwards of 120 patients a day, Dr Mary is thrown into the deep end of the health crisis facing the Kimberley. Against the backdrop of a resources bonanza she comes face to face with the health impacts on a community by-passed by the boom; including a homeless pensioner recently awarded the Order of Australia, the ticking time-bomb of heart disease for a grandmother trying to provide a home for young kids fleeing family feuds, and ailments you don’t normally see in a Scottish waiting room – what IS the antidote for hairy caterpillar bite?
Halfway through Dr Mary’s 3-month stint an Australian General Election is called. Will this herald a new dawn in indigenous health funding and a culmination of the hope arising out of Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generation? The signs aren’t good. Against a rising tide of alcohol-related illnesses and violence and dwindling resources Dr Mary finds out how hard it can be just to get one man a place in rehab.
Australia may well be a prosperous developed nation but the health statistics filling this Kimberley clinic are Third World. Dr Mary finds herself well outside her comfort zone and forced to conclude, “nothing in my medical training could prepare me for this.”
Dr Mary is thrown into the deep end of the health crisis facing the Kimberley and the struggle to close the huge gap between indigenous and non-indigenous health expectations. Against the backdrop of a resources bonanza she comes face to face with the health impacts on a community by-passed by the boom; including a homeless pensioner recently awarded the Order of Australia.
Halfway through Dr Mary’s 3-month stint an Australian General Election is called. Will this herald a new dawn in indigenous health funding and a culmination of the hope arising out of Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generation? Against a rising tide of alcohol-related illnesses and violence and dwindling resources Dr Mary finds out how hard it can be just to get one man a place in rehab. Has she bitten off more than she can chew this time?
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