A NEW medical centre for indigenous health in Warwick has been labelled as an asset to the community by representatives of the Githabul people.
Large crowds including patients, members of the local indigenous community and representatives from health organisations turned out for the opening of the new Carbal Medical Centre on Grafton St yesterday.
What started as a mobile health clinic in Leslie Park eight months ago has turned into something much bigger, with centre co-ordinator Charlie Rowe describing the opening as an "exciting" development.
"We rolled this out in May at Leslie Park, working three days a week and we ended up with more than 570 clients," he said.
"The board saw that as a need here in Warwick and we started work on the centre here two weeks before Christmas."
Complete with a full-time doctor, two part-time doctors, a number of Aboriginal health workers, allied health specialists and nurses, Mr Rowe said he hoped the centre would help close the gap.
"I think it's important to have this health care - the need here is very, very big," he said.
"A lot of hard work has gone into this clinic - I'm very proud and very honoured to be a part of this."
The centre was given a traditional welcoming by Githabul tribal representatives Robert and Gloria Williams, who recounted stories of their ancestors complete with a song.
Mr Williams told the Daily News he believed the centre would be a brilliant asset for people.
"Really and truly from the bottom of the Elder's Council they would like to say may it be a benefit for all," he said.
Patients from as far as Inglewood and Goondiwindi have been utilising the services of Carbal, with more expected to come now the permanent centre is open five days a week.
Regional Development Australia Chair Cr Bill Cahill said he believed Carbal will be much more than a medical centre.
"It will become a meeting place," he said.
"Statistics show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people very rarely attend mainstream health facilities - this is why a service such as this is so important."
Shelley Reynolds from Carbal Medical Centre said the centre was about being culturally safe.
"The services our clients need is huge - there's a massive demand for this," she said.
"We've had big engagement weeks with Queensland Health in Warwick and we've now got a direct link with Warwick Hospital."
More photos on page 13.