In mid 2006 the Northern Rivers Division of general Practice was successful in obtaining a grant from the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (OATSIH), within the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, to assess the needs of Aboriginal people in the Ballina and adjacent areas regarding primary health Care Services. In addition their task was to design an appropriate and sustainable health service, including a structure for community control.
Ballina and adjacent areas refers to the communities of Ballina, Cabbage Tree Island, Evans Head, Wollongbar and Byron Bay. The estimated indigenous population in these areas was 2,300 people.
A consultant and local facilitator were engaged to implement the project and provide a report and recommendations to a project steering committee, which was to be established mid 2007. The consultation consisted of individual interviews, and workshops which were the basis of further discussion with the steering committee. The report states that the areas of priority in Indigenous health in the Ballina areas are dental health, counselling for mental health and drug and alcohol abuse, and diabetes.
The steering committee was formed and includes local community members from the Ballina, Cabbage Tree Island and Byron Bay areas, representatives from the Northern Rivers General Practice Network, Jali LALC and OATSIH. Once the committee was formed two Community Development officers were engaged for six months to get the health service up and running, the final position ended in March 2008. The Service Co-ordinator and Practice Manager were employed and the service opened to a huge crowd on Friday the 14th March 2008. Clinics then began on the 17th of March 2008.
Over the past two years both the practice and the service has grown to include an impressive list of staff, services and programs that support and care for the community.
Outreach services to Cabbage Tree Island commenced for two days per week in 2009 and Outreach clinics also started at Byron Bay Community Centre in 2010.
As of 1st of October 2010 Bullinah became an independent Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.
Better Goori Health.
Working with the community for better health and well-being.
Bullinah will develop as a comprehensive Aboriginal primary health care service that applies a holistic approach with flexible models of care that acknowledge cultural obligations and relationships.