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New era in remote healthcare - closing the gap

Red Cross is working with remote Indigenous communities to close the gap on access to healthcare.

Monday February 17, 2014

Opening of Pat Gosper Place

Red Cross has opened a distinctive accommodation centre in Cairns, providing a welcome home away from home for people from some of the most remote parts of the state who are receiving medical treatment in Cairns.

The Red Cross Wellbeing Centre - Pat Gosper Place, was officially launched on Monday 17 February by Governor of Queensland, Her Excellency Ms Penelope Wensley AC, as Queensland Patron of Red Cross in its centenary year.

Australian Red Cross President Michael Legge spoke at the opening:

"The $7 million centre offers quality, affordable accommodation in an inclusive, healing and culturally appropriate environment.

"With people in rural and remote communities suffering from poorer health, reduced life expectancy and higher levels of disease and illness, this will fill a real gap for people who are unable to access the quality and range of medical services people in the city take for granted.

"Most of the guests will be from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, so we have created a building to make them feel truly at home, with artwork from local Aboriginal artist Arone Meeks symbolising flora and fauna across the seasons in the far north.

"Closing the gap must remain a high priority for all Australians. I'm extremely proud that Red Cross, as Australia's largest and most trusted charity, with such an extensive national reach, is working with so many remote communities under the 'Together as Partners' action plan.

"The centre is designed to reflect the Red Cross wellbeing model, with its sense of openness, welcome and homeliness, mirroring health and recovery. The Wellbeing Centre provides a range of holistic services on site and through referral, in partnership with local organisations.

"Today's event is the result of decades of fundraising by many volunteers and local branches. I am constantly inspired and humbled by the determination and commitment of Red Cross people making such a positive and lasting difference every day in their communities ," Michael Legge said.

Construction of Pat Gosper Place has been funded by Queensland Health ($5 million) and the Australian Government's Health and Hospitals Fund ($1.9 million) and builds on a legacy with Red Cross providing accommodation services on this site for over 50 years!

Pat Gosper, OAM, is an extraordinary local Red Cross supporter. She first joined in 1945, and since 1971 has regularly held the position of Cairns Branch President. She was instrumental in setting up the local Blood Service, disaster services, the Red Cross shop and the Emergency Medical Accommodation Centre along with the significant community fundraising to support them.

Watch the ABC NEWS story now!
You can hear from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members, our Red Cross people at the centre, as well as Pat herself here.

Read media release
Read speech by Governor of Queensland, Her Excellency Ms Penelope Wensley AC
Read speech by Australian Red Cross President, Michael Legge.
Read more about Pat Gosper Place.