POSITIVE changes are afoot at Tamworth Aboriginal Medical Service (TAMS) aimed at improving the health of Aboriginal people and moving the service towards its ultimate goal of independence.
When it first opened it was auspiced (overseen) by the North West Slopes Division of General Practice.
The Department of Health and Ageing contacted the Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service and asked if it would be interested in taking on a caretaker role for (auspicing) the Tamworth service and that arrangement came into effect on July 1.
Wellington ACHS chief executive officer Darren Ah See has been in Tamworth since July and said he’s been delighted with the progress already made.
Part of that was to do a complete review of TAMS’ operations and support it through the restructure towards becoming a best practice service run as an independent entity.
Mr Ah See said there was a two-year timeframe for this to occur and an approved independence plan was in place.
“We’ve already made some impressive progress and implemented some internal operational changes,” he said.
“What’s vitally important in the whole process is to have the full support of the board and staff, which we have.
"Board members have already undertaken two lots of governance training and have identified that we need to communicate more effectively with the community.”
That’s why Tamworth Community Centre is the venue for a community meeting at 6pm on November 13 to hear any concerns out there, but in order to put their views forward, people need to become members.
According to the new constitution formally accepted and endorsed by the TAMS board at a special meeting on October 17, previous memberships are no longer active, Mr Ah See said.
“All interested community members need to apply for membership and pay an annual $1 membership fee. In this way, we can update people’s information each year when membership is due,” he said.
The board will hold a special meeting on November 7 to pass all applications received, ahead of the November 13 community meeting.
The annual general meeting will then be held on December 11. To attend the AGM, all new members will need to have approval of their membership by the board, Mr Ah See said.
TAMS board chairwoman Cathy Trindall said she would love to see as many members of the community join the new-look service as possible so they could have their say at the upcoming meetings.
“Come to the meetings and let’s work together to see this service through to independence,” Ms Trindall said.
“Most importantly, come in and submit your membership application so you can have a say in the future of the organisation.”
Future plans closer to “independence day” for TAMS include forging partnerships and working with mainstream health providers to address specific Aboriginal health issues, which will ultimately benefit the entire community, Ms Trindall said.
Mr Ah See said as the service’s independence drew closer, TAMS would recruit for its chief executive officer position.
“Our ultimate aim is to address the health needs of the Aboriginal people in Tamworth and its catchment areas in line with the closing of the gap initiative, working towards a well-structured, best practice Aboriginal health service,” he said.