The beautiful and historic Murray River provides the backdrop to Robinvale, a small river town between Mildura and Swan Hill and it is here you will find the Murray Valley Aboriginal Corporation (MVAC), which has the local Aboriginal Medical Service.
MVAC is an Aboriginal community controlled health service providing primary health care and related health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the Robinvale district.
Robinvale is 90km from the larger city of Mildura in north-west Victoria. The total population is about 2500, of which about 600 people are Aboriginal people. Robinvale is also the home of renowned Aboriginal artist Aunty Barb Egan, who has had an art centre called Emily’s Shed in the town for many years.
MVAC Health Manager is Sam Cooke says while it is a distinct river community with its own identity, the area’s main health issues are a mirror of a national pattern in terms of chronic disease.
“For Aboriginal people – the area has a high level of chronic disease such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease here,” Sam says.
To help combat and educate about these diseases, the service has visiting specialists, including a Diabetes Educator and nutritionist.
The Murray Valley Aboriginal Corporation is regularly visited by specialists such as a Cardiologist, Physiotherapist, Podiatrist, Optometrist and a Dental Service. It also hosts a range of other services.
Aboriginal Health Workers and Chronic Disease Nurses also work out of the centre along with a Bringing Them Home Counsellor for the Stolen Generations and a Family Service.
“There is a ‘Time Out Centre’ for Men’s Business, where the men meet for lunch once a week. There is also a Mums and Bubs Group that meets weekly to discuss women’s and children’s health issues,” Sam says.
An Elders group also meets regularly at the centre and it runs a Home and Community Care Program (HACC) that assists the elderly.
“There is a permanent midwife service as well as a regular Mums and Bubs Group and regular ante-natal checks and vaccinations and children’s health checks are carried out,” she says.
The AMS is located in beautiful surrounds of The Murray River.
“The land near the centre goes right down to the river. It is beautiful,” Sam says.