Sunrise: a shining example of health care

AMS1AMS of the Month

The Sunrise Health Service is an Incorporated Aboriginal Community controlled health service delivering comprehensive primary health care to Aboriginals across the Katherine region in the Northern Territory.

Starting as a Coordinated Care Trial in 2002, Sunrise has “maintained its momentum” and now provides holistic and culturally sensitive healthcare to some 3,500 members and clients.

Graham Castine, the CEO of Sunrise, says that the overall aim of Sunrise is to improve the lives of the people that inhabit the remote location.

“The aims of the service revolve on the obvious improvement of individual and community health status through the delivery of its primary health care programs,” says Graham.

“Because of the nature and remoteness of our working environment, this care extends to the provision of acute care on a one on one basis.”

AMS2Sunrise prides itself on the ability to effectively deliver care that is culturally appropriate.

“The view on Aboriginal concepts and life focuses on the very nature of their understanding of cause and effect and relates to reasoning outside of the western health influence as to ‘why I am crook?’” explains graham.

“The holistic nature of health focus and delivery takes into account these factors along with the health approach to ‘mind, body and spirit’.

“People need to feel safe in their environment, health being a part of that. Anything we can do to create a safe environment and even a sense of safety, security and trust, the better.”

Graham says that with such a competent mix of comprehensive health programs it’s hard to pick one that shines above the rest.

“There are a number of programs which Sunrise runs which we consider outstanding,” he says.

“Programs such as nutrition, mothers and babies and male health have already born positive results.

“These programs, aligned with the clinical care that comes from our mix of GP’s, Aboriginal Health Practitioners and Nurses, identifying and clients undertaking health checks, together with the obvious health plans which flow from these are positive.”

Graham would eventually like to see community controlled Indigenous health services all over the country.

“As a successful ‘Regional Health Service’ model, Sunrise would like to see community controlled Indigenous health services covering the whole of the NT, and Australia for that matter, each with its own positive and clear governance arrangements,” says Graham.


“There is sufficient evidence around these models of health care and the responsibility to have clear and positive outcomes. Do it best, and with the right and dedicated staff, a good membership and clarity of purpose will get the job done.”

As for the future, Sunrise will strive to continue delivering health service to the community with the help of dedicated staff and their partners: The Fred Hollows Foundation, Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth and the Honda Foundation.

“Sunrise in the future is an effervescent and growing institution, is regarded highly by its members and community, has positive outcomes and is well regarded and supported by its funding partners,” he says.

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