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Urapuntja

Urapuntja

Urapuntja, or its awkward pseudonym Utopia, is one of the most remote places I've visited and it challenged all my pre-conceptions of 'life on the land,' the guilty conscience of modern Australia and the revisionist history of all involved in the colonial past and present.

 

 Australia's red centre

Australia's red centre

I worked at the local area health service, purpose built between 16 homelands that cares for several distinct and incompatible tribal groups. Retrieval services via the Royal Flying Doctors was typically to Darwin.

 

The clinic is managed primarily by remote area nurses and a single general practitioner. We travelled each day to outstation clinics in different homelands to ensure those living further away accessed healthcare. 

 A clinic outstation

A clinic outstation

A primary challenge we faced was encouraging patients to understand the relevance of the treatments we employed. Prescribing thyroid tablets that required refrigeration for people who sleep under the stars was impractical. Asking children to shampoo infections from their hair seemed inconsequential when they'd be re-covered in dust within seconds.

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Regular blood tests to monitor diabetes in individuals who would never see a gym, let alone have the capacity to grow fresh vegetables felt impotent. It would require a lot of ingenuity to transplant city medicine to a desert lifestyle. 

 Sleeping under the stars

Sleeping under the stars

The most difficult thing I saw was the aftermath of a fight between two tribes. There were people with spear wounds and others who'd been clubbed. 

 

What I learned after deep introspection and my own revision of what I experienced there, is that judgement has no place in remote communities. It was impossible for me to find clarity in a place so foreign and overwhelmingly confronting.

 

 

 Government built housing with an outdoor cooking and resting area

Government built housing with an outdoor cooking and resting area

 Local artists beautifying the health service

Local artists beautifying the health service

To try to find answers for questions that quite simply may not exist outside of my own projections, is ludicrous.

 

 

The only words that should resonate must come from the people who live there.

Cyclones on Islands

Cyclones on Islands

The Keppel Islands and Yeppoon

The Keppel Islands and Yeppoon