Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

New accommodation facility for Indigenous mothers

Joint Media Release with:

  • Jim Turnour MP, Member for Leichhardt

Expectant Indigenous mothers and their babies in North Queensland will have greater access to ante-natal and post-natal care at a new 24-bed accommodation facility in Cairns.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin and Jim Turnour, Member for Leichhardt, today announced Australian Government funding of more than $5 million for the facility.

It will be managed by the Mookai Rosie Bi-Bayan Corporation. Since 1983 the corporation has managed a 12-bed facility in Cairns caring for Indigenous women from the Cape York, Torres Strait and Gulf regions in Queensland.

‘Many Indigenous mothers cannot access obstetric services in their home communities and need to travel to Cairns to have their babies,’ Ms Macklin said.

‘This facility will provide accommodation, referrals, advice, education and support for these mothers.

‘There is such a high demand for services that Mookai Rosie currently turns away at least one woman a day. It is clear there is a real need to expand these services,’ Ms Macklin said.

Construction of the new 24-bed facility is due to start in April 2009, to be completed by February 2010.

On top of the eight shared bedrooms, it will include two living areas, a large dining area and kitchen, plus a meeting room for post-natal education programs and other support services.

‘The need for this type of facility was identified in the Australian Labor Party’s May 2007 policy paper New Directions: an equal start in life for Indigenous children,’ Mr Turnour said.

‘It will help close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by improving outcomes for new mothers in remote parts of far north Queensland.’

The funding comes from the Government’s new Indigenous Mothers’ Accommodation Fund, announced in this year’s Budget, which provides $10 million in capital funding over three years for accommodation for expectant mothers travelling from remote communities to access medical and related services in urban centres.