Posted by Maureen Phillips
The Australian District we partnered with for our GSE last year also gave us the opportunity for a Global Grant.   
After many years, the first remote renal dialysis service recently opened on the APY lands in far north South Australia at Pukatja (Ernabella). Known by the name of Purple House, the facility is run by the Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation (WDNWPT), with its CEO Sarah Brown. WDNWPT is run by Aboriginal people from remote communities with input and leadership from the Pukatja Community Council, the APY Council, NPY Women’s Council and the APY Art Collective. There has also been a growing association with Rotary clubs over the past ten years. Their CEO, Sarah Brown, has been a popular motivational speaker at District conferences and Institutes over the past few years.
In 2017, she presented at a District Conference in Mount Gambier and talked of her experiences with the existing Purple House facilities and, of course, the Purple House bus, a mobile dialysis unit. Many present that day were inspired by her presentation, and talk began about Rotary Clubs joining forces to provide much needed assistance to this latest project.
Pukatja is one of the most remote communities in South Australia. There is an incidence of kidney disease of around 15 times the national average. Once a person’s kidneys fail they will need to receive dialysis to survive. Until now, that meant residents moving away from home and family to receive treatment as the nearest dialysis for them was in Alice Springs, Port Augusta and Adelaide. In over 15 years of experience in other remote communities, the experience of WDNWPT has been that people who can access treatment close to home are healthier, happier, more productive and contribute to their community and live longer. Away from home, they require interpreters, social workers, supported accommodation, income support and are generally unwell and homesick. They lose the will to live! Many of these people are vital for the transmission of cultural knowledge and to provide leadership within the communities. Some people will choose to die prematurely rather than be forced to leave their homelands and families to get treatment.
Dialysis patients from Pukatja and surrounds, their family and community organisations and art centres have been talking about their need for this service for many years. They successfully lobbied politicians and raised money themselves through artworks including the high-profile event auction at the Tanarthi Aboriginal Art Festival in Adelaide, and marathons for fundraising. Both federal and state governments have undertaken to support the project with operational costs beyond the first year of operation, and the federal government funded the building.
Help was still needed in funding for the equipment itself. With the Rotary Club of Waikerie taking the lead, Rotary Districts 9520 (Part of SA, Broken Hilll and Western Victoria), 6040 (Kansas City
Missouri, USA), 9630 (Queensland), and the Rotary Clubs of Waikerie, Unley, Brownhill Creek, Yankalilla, Victor Harbor and the Nomads and Rotary International World Fund, $250,000 was raised to supply four dialysis units and their associated equipment, and furniture and fittings for nursing staff homes. Further help will be provided in due course with setting up of a kitchen garden for the facility by several South Australian Clubs.
The completion of this project is wonderful for a community that has fought for so many years for this service. Some of those who began the fight are no longer alive, however, the fact that people dreamed of getting their family members home and have worked hard to create this means that people have a strong sense of pride and accomplishment, which we hope will translate into further positive outcomes for this remote, poor and often overlooked community.
There was an article published in The Advertiser Digital in late August that talked about the project.  
A MARATHON 10-year fundraising effort has culminated in the state’s first remote dialysis unit opening in the APY Lands.  In what organizers have called a “completely fabulous” achievement for Aboriginal communities, the unit will allow members – who have been forced to stay in the city for treatment – to return to their traditional country.
The mammoth fundraising drive by charity dialysis provider Purple House and the APY Lands’ communities raised $500,000 towards the $3 million project.  It saw Aboriginal health worker Zibeon Fielding raise $50,000 by running a 62km ultra-marathon . Other fundraising efforts included Aboriginal artwork sales, Rotary Club donations and State Government grants.
The Federal Government kicked in the remaining cost.  The project includes a new dialysis unit in Pukatja (Ernabella ) and two homes for nurses based there.  It is the 18th unit established by Purple House, which also operates similar branches in the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Until now, the closest for APY Lands locals was a five-hour drive away in Alice Springs.  “It’s completely fabulous and I can’t quite believe it’s open and we’ve done it,” Purple House chief executive Sarah Brown said.  She says patients will be able to return to their traditional lands and pass on language and culture to younger generations.  “In Australian communities , there’s this vulnerable knowledge that has been passed on for thousands of years in absolute danger of being lost to us all if we don’t have opportunities to get people home,” Ms Brown said. “It’s all about having the right people in the right place at the right time. It’s not something that people can learn later – they can’t learn it from a book.” Dialysis patients must have treatment every second day, meaning those from the APY Lands have been forced to move to Alice Springs, Port Augusta or Adelaide.  The new unit will allow about 25 patients to gradually return home, either permanently or for extended visits.