Delivering a purpose-built medical center with the involvement of and for Indigenous communities in New South Wales, Australia
Casino is a town of approximately 10,000 people in the Richmond Valley in New South Wales, Australia, with strong links to the Aboriginal community, including the Yaegl, Gumbaynggirr and Bundjalung Nations. To ensure the Indigenous communities of Casino and nearby Box Ridge, Muli Muli, Tabulam and Kyogle have appropriate access to a new, purpose-built medical facility in Casino, the federal government’s Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (OATSIH) provided the Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation with A$4.4 million (US$3.2 million).
The new facility accommodates 8-10 GPs, a first aid treatment facility, allied health facilities, a dedicated ambulance bay and provision for a future dental facility. We were 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.
To maximize Indigenous involvement, we conducted extensive consultation throughout the project with staff, incorporating as many of their requests as possible. We also sought to address the specific requirements of both Bulgarr Ngaru as the center operator and the Indigenous patients, and to boost opportunities for the involvement of Indigenous professionals and workers.
One of the center’s key concerns was providing a safe and pleasant working environment to promote the long-term retention of medical personnel. This is important so that Indigenous patients feel comfortable and confident attending the center. By addressing concerns related to natural light and security, our designs have contributed significantly to this retention.