ARH Helps to Support Indigenous Community Health


The Animal Referral Hospital announces its membership to AMRRIC (Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities), a national, not-for-profit charity that works to improve the health and welfare of companion animals and people in remote Indigenous communities.

Sadly, many dogs in remote Indigenous communities live in poor conditions. But truth is, most Indigenous people love and value their dogs, says Julia Hardaker, Chief Executive of AMRRIC.

“People don’t have access to regular veterinary services because of their remote locations. Education and training helps in understanding the links between poor dog and human health,” she adds.

Led by veterinarians, academics, health and animal management professionals, AMRRIC facilitates sustainable solutions through doghealth programs. Programs give much-needed animal treatments and desexing procedures, resulting in fewer roaming dogs and even fewer suffering from diseases, parasites and skin conditions, which ultimately contribute to improved human and community health (physical and mental).

ARH General Manager Troy James is excited about ARH supporting AMRRIC’s dog health programs.

“We see AMRRIC as a training organisation doing a wonderful job in educating remote Indigenous communities and enabling people to develop skills in providing better level of care for their animals,” he says. “ARH becoming a member of AMRRIC seems like a great fit.”

The ARH has also another connection to the charity through AMRRIC’s Animal Management Worker Program Manager, Dr John Skuja, who used to work at the ARH for many years as an emergency veterinarian. Originally from Sydney, Dr Skuja left the ARH in 2011 to work for AMRRIC in the most isolated of places.

“It’s like working in opposite ends of the veterinary spectrum … Going from that level of ‘top end care’ (at the ARH) to working in extreme remote areas that have never seen a vet. It’s also very different working with low literacy trainees compared to training vet students at the ARH who are engaged in learning to be vets,” he explains. “My work is strongly based around desexing and community education – not as exciting as an emergency room but it’s very satisfying.”

What makes Dr Skuja’s job so rewarding is being a part of something life-changing not just for dogs, but also for Aboriginal people. He coordinates a significant program that started two years ago – the first of its type in the Northern Territory – and involves the employment, training and mentoring of Indigenous people to fill 14 Animal Management Worker positions.

Three of them women, the Animal Management Workers work within their own communities across three Shires in the Northern Territory. They are all currently enrolled in Bachelor Institute Certificate II in Environmental Studies, run parasite control programs and assist visiting vets by preparing surgery lists.

For some of these individuals, it’s the first job they’ve had in their lives and it gives them an enormous sense of pride, says Dr Skuja.

“Working to bring animal welfare and animal management to these remote and isolated areas is challenging, in some cases to people who are struggling to survive themselves and so disadvantaged in Australian society. The animals that live with them also suffer similarly,” he says. “We want to give everyone the means to look after their dogs as much as they’d like to. AMRRIC works to provide those opportunities.”

Sadly, AMRRIC lost some critical funding from the NT state government in June and is fundraising in order to continue the running of its vital programs in Indigenous communities.

“At ARH, we encourage everyone to learn more about AMRRIC’s programs and get involved by fundraising, donating or joining AMRRIC as a financial member,” says Mr James.

To discover more about AMRRIC, visit www.amrric.org

 


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