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First sod turned for new patient accommodation

The symbolic first sod has been turned at the site of what will be Townsville’s first multi-functional accommodation aimed at improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people.

Stage one will include a $5.7million Supported Transitional Health Accommodation facility at the Upper Ross site on Riverway Drive to assist ATSI patients travelling from remote communities to access the Townsville Hospital and Health Services.

The project is being championed by local organisation Yumba-Meta Limited (YML) which delivers housing and support services to vulnerable North Queenslanders with a focus on advocating for the ATSI community. CEO Dushy Thangiah said the facility would address some real areas of need.

“We have been working to support vulnerable people in our community for more than 45 years and our experience working in the homelessness space in Townsville demonstrated the need to provide support to those travelling from remote communities to access medical care,” Ms Thangiah said.

“YML has invested more than $1.7million and we thank the Australian Government for its support towards construction of the accommodation as $2.89million of this project was funded by the Australian Government through the Building Better Regions Funds.

“We are currently in negotiations with various levels of government to secure operational funding to manage the facility moving forward. “Our vision for this project transcends only accommodation, besides the Patient Transition Facility there are a number of other projects proposed for this site, with a long-term plan to develop in stages over seven-to-ten years.”

YML purchased the land that previously housed the Upper Ross Community Centre at Rasmussen at the beginning of 2017, with the purpose of developing services for the Townsville community, including some important services that are currently lacking in the Upper Ross area.

The site concept has now been developed and a business case has been completed by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, while development approval has also been received from the Townsville City Council.

Herbert MP Phillip Thompson OAM said the project would provide an economic boost to the community by creating 55 jobs during construction, but more importantly, better health outcomes for those who come to stay.

“These are the exact kinds of projects we need to support to achieve real results for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians,” Mr Thompson said. “Yumba-Meta Limited have extensive local knowledge and understanding of community needs in North Queensland. Having them involved in this project right from its inception will go a long way to achieving real results for everyone involved.”

Stage one is expected to be completed by March 2021.