The first medical professionals dedicated to helping Indigenous people in the North East are set to start work in Wangaratta in July.
As the Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service marked National Reconciliation Week starting on Saturday, chair Craig Taylor was also looking towards growing the organisation.
The new staff members will be a drug and alcohol councillor and mental health councillor for the Aboriginal community.
AWAHS was also moving towards its dream to open a bulk billing medical service in Wangaratta.
“There’ll be an Aboriginal theme to it, so we’ve got that cultural sensitivity there, but inviting other people from the non-Indigenous community to use it as well – so it’s not ‘us’ and ‘them’, it’s us together as a community,” Mr Taylor said.
“Hopefully once we’ve got our clinic set up on the Victorian side of the border, we’ll be able to see more people.”
He said having a presence in Victorian and NSW would allow the organisation to be recognised by both governments.
The clinic will provide income outside of government funding, which had declined following cuts when Tony Abbott was prime minister.
Mr Taylor welcomed this week’s release of the Bringing Them Home report, addressing the trauma and social issues of the stolen generation – some who reside on the Border.
“It gets passed on and on and on, the disregard for authority, because of what happened to them,” he said.
“We see ourselves as an organisation that has the capacity to grow that message about reconciliation, to keep the communities together.”
Indi MP Cathy McGowan urged the government to follow the report’s recommendations and said she would continue working with the region’s Aboriginal groups around recognition.
She said she was grateful to those who shared their culture, such as the elders who were teaching traditional Indigenous languages to students in Bright.
“There are large numbers of Indigenous people that live here and can trace their lineage back to before white settlement,” Ms McGowan said. “To know the culture is well and alive in our community and it’s not a thing of the past, it’s not history, that’s what I love the most.”