THE Port Lincoln Aboriginal Health Service celebrated its 20th anniversary this month, reflecting on its achievements to support the local Aboriginal community over that time.
Past and present staff and board members celebrated with partner organisations and the community at an open day on September 3 followed by a bush tucker cookout at the Wombat Pit at Mallee Park.
Emma Richards started the ceremony at the health service with a welcome to country and the community heard for the first time the local language revived and spoken by Kaiden Richards-Hancock and Darnell Richards.
Chief executive officer Harry Miller acknowledged many of the people who had played a role in the organisation over the past two decades.
He acknowledged the inaugural chairwoman Iris Burgoyne along with other past chair people and current chairman Les Kropinyeri.
He also acknowledged past staff and the service's partners, many of which were represented at the celebration, including the Aboriginal Health Council of SA, the Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Health, and state funding bodies Country Health SA, Drug and Alcohol Services SA, Aboriginal health aged care, Port Lincoln Health Services, Port Lincoln Aboriginal Community Council and Medicare Local.
Mr Miller thanked the staff, past and present, for their unwavering commitment to the community's health needs and developing community capacity, which he said had helped change the lives of many individuals and families.
The Port Lincoln Aboriginal Health Service was officially opened by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission chairwoman Lois O'Donoghue on September 3, 1993.
When it was first established there were 13 staff members - Jack Johncock, Gabriella Burgoyne, Mark Larking, Elizabeth Taylor, Jeremy Coaby, Ollie Flanagan, Alan Evans, Jacqueline AhKit, Josie Carbine, Denise Pompey, Shondelle Coleman, Nara Threadgold and chief executive officer Paul Ashe - a number that has since grown to 43.
The service started as a small team of health, social and emotional well being, substance misuse workers and administration.
Over the years the service has expanded significantly to offer a comprehensive range of services covering primary health care, maternal and child health, family support, allied health, aged care and a learning centre.
Some of the highlights of the last 20 years have been achieving and maintaining clinical accreditation since 2003, staff receiving qualifications across the health spectrum, and development of the chronic disease program including activities like the healthy lifestyle camps, which have grown from about 30 attendees to 140 in the last eight years.
One of the aims of the service is to take a holistic approach to health and well being and provide a one-stop-shop for clients through individual case management and by evolving and adapting to client's needs.
"We can all accept there is still a way to go towards improving health outcomes for our people, which means that efficient and affective planning and implementation of social programs like grief and loss, drug and alcohol, homes and housing, and employment need to continue to be achieved," Mr Miller said.
"We must be identified as the preferred provider and this needs the effort of all to understand and convince major funders that community control of health services can deliver the best outcomes."