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Corporate Collaboration in the Desert

The Papunya/Mt Liebig/Haasts Bluff team with their final, one hundred and first patient for desexing. L to R: Bex O'Grady, Graeme Cross, Bob Irving, Jan Allen, Emily Chan and Michael Archinal.

For many years, AMRRIC has been recruiting, encouraging and mentoring veterinary partners to “adopt” remote Indigenous communities, with the intention to secure commitment to sustainable long term animal population and health programs for the communities that it works with.  Such arrangements aid in reconciliation efforts and benefit both the community and the veterinary teams through the opportunity to develop genuine relationships founded on trust and reciprocity.  In 2009, The Canberra Mob was the first veterinary group that AMRRIC mentored into these programs; ten years on, this committed group of veterinarians continues to provide bi-annual veterinary services to a broad range of communities in central Australia.

Most recently, in April 2019, three PETstock veterinary staff volunteered on a pilot program in Papunya, in the western MacDonnell Ranges, NT, facilitated by AMRRIC, and delivered with the support of MacDonnell Regional Council.  On the ground, AMRRIC Program Manager, Dr Jan Allen, and AMRRIC associated veterinarians, Dr Bob Irving and Canberra Mob’s Dr Michael Archinal mentored “The PETstock Mob” - Dr Emily Chan and Dr Graeme Cross, alongside veterinary nurse, Rebecca (Bex) O’Grady – showing them the ropes of this rewarding, but sometime challenging work.

With AMRRIC’s usual focus of companion animal population health and management, the program was so successful that it extended during the week from Papunya to the communities of Mt Liebig, 70 kilometres further west, and Haasts Bluff, 35 kilometres to the south. These two communities had never previously received a veterinary program delivering surgical desexing.  Nevertheless the residents readily embraced the services, bringing their dogs to the surgery sites in each community, to be desexed by the veterinary team.  In total, 101 dogs were desexed across the three communities visited. A number of animals were also treated by the team for injuries and illnesses.  With old and new experience combined, the team delivered an incredible effort that will result in huge benefits for these western MacDonnell communities. 

The PETstock team were enthusiastic and highly professional; their commitment to continuing remote veterinary services evident. AMRRIC is pleased to be able to mentor and work with groups like PETstock, to further support animal health and management in remote Indigenous communities and ensure that communities receive culturally appropriate services, delivered to best practice standards.  AMRRIC looks forward to continuing to working with all of the program's collaborators to assist remote Indigenous communities and their pets.

AMRRIC welcomes enquiries from both individual veterinarians and veterinary groups interested in becoming involved with remote Indigenous community veterinary service provision: info@amrric.org

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