Casino, a town in the Richmond Valley in NSW near the border of Queensland, is home to approximately 10,000 people and has strong links with the Aboriginal community, including the Yaegl, Gumbaynggirr and Bundjalung Nations. To ensure the local community had access to a modern medical facility that could appropriately service the Indigenous communities of Casino, Box Ridge, Muli Muli, Tabulam and Kyogle, the federal government, through the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (OATSIH), provided the Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation with $4.4 million for a new, purpose-built facility in Casino.

AECOM was appointed as the Project Manager and Design Consultant for the project, which included managing the scoping phase, community consultation, design (both in-house and external consultants), contract administration and construction supervision, right through to the handover of the completed facility.

Because this medical centre was primarily intended to service the Indigenous community, it was very important that the planning, project management, design and construction of the centre incorporated as much Indigenous involvement as possible. This would help to ensure that:

  • The specific requirements of Bulgarr Ngaru as the centre operator were incorporated into the centre
  • The specific and particular requirements of the Indigenous patients, including the Indigenous elders, were incorporated into the centre
  • Opportunities for involvement of Indigenous professionals and workers were maximised.

It was important with this particular project to understand what quality meant to the Indigenous community and to ensure that all of those on the project team understood those requirements. It was also critical to provide a work environment that would support the retention of doctors and medical staff. This was achieved through extensive consultation throughout the project with staff and incorporating as many of their requests such as those related to natural light and security, as possible.

The centre was keen on promoting the long-term retention of medical personnel so that their Indigenous patients could feel comfortable and confident in attending the centre to have any health issues addressed. Feedback from the centre is that the new building has contributed significantly to this retention by providing a safe and pleasant working environment.

The new facility accommodates eight to ten GPs, a first aid treatment facility, allied health facilities, a dedicated ambulance bay, and provision for a dental facility in the future.