Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation (GYHSAC) is an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service delivering Primary Health Care Services within the Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire in Far North Queensland. Gurriny is the first Community Controlled Health Organisation in Australia to deliver primary health services in an Aboriginal Community. A Board of Directors who are members of the Yarrabah Community governs Gurriny. Gurriny is a member organisation of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) alliance and Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC).
The concept of having a Community Controlled Health Organisation in Yarrabah started back in the 1980’s when Yarrabah Community members were fighting for self-determination and saw the need for Aboriginal Health to be in the hands and care of our own people. This meant that Yarrabah people could be better involved in the strategic direction and decisions for improved health care and how it was going to be delivered in our Community. This movement also came off the back of Yarrabah having the highest rate of suicide in a short timeframe compared to anywhere else in the world at the time.
In 1988, Yarrabah Aboriginal Council commissioned a community health assessment and the development of a 5-year plan. A Health Committee was formed the following year in 1989 and then became incorporated as the Yarrabah Health Council in 1991. With funding for infrastructure from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), and funds from the local Guyala Canteen operated under the Yarrabah Aboriginal Council (YAC), the Yarrabah Health Council was able to deliver its own Rheumatic Fever Project with the employment one full-time and two part-time health workers. Queensland Health funded a Suicide Prevention program in 1995.
The vision of having a Community Controlled Health Service was still being pursued when the Yarrabah Health Council rolled out a feasibility study in 1997. The Leaders and Directors of the Health Council continued to lobby the Government and other philanthropic organisations to fund the Vision. In 1999, Smithkline Beecham and the Department of Health and Ageing provided funding for the delivery of a Social Emotional Wellbeing Service and to employ an Office Manager and Finance Officer. Then in 2000, Yarrabah Health Council changed its name to Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation.
During the next few years up until 2006, Gurriny began to grow and was able to deliver health promotion programs, an outreach pharmacy service in partnership with a Pharmacy from Cairns, and a Patient Transport Service for Yarrabah clients to attend medical clinics in Cairns. A Youth Crime prevention project and Nutrition Health Worker later joined the number of services operating through Gurriny. Early 2006 welcomed the signing of the Deed of Commitment between Gurriny, Yarrabah Aboriginal Council, the Gunggandji People, the Department of Health and Ageing, and Queensland Health to progress the vision of building a new Primary Health Care Facility for the Yarrabah people. At this point in time, clinical health services were primarily being delivered by Queensland Health and a local GP practice.
In 2009, Gurriny delivered its first primary health care service from the old Community Health building on Workshop Street in the main township area. Gurriny employed an Indigenous Health Worker, a Clinic Practice Manager, and a General Practitioner with funding from the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (OATSIH). In 2010, Gurriny co-located with Queensland Health and Queensland Ambulance Service to the new Primary Health Care Facility along Bukki Road at Mourigan. The purpose of building the facility at this site was to accommodate for the growing community along the southern corridor and for health services to be at a central location for better accessibility. Both Gurriny and Queensland Health were still delivering primary health care services to Yarrabah people up until 2014. Then during that same year, 2014, Primary Health Care Services transitioned across to Community Control under Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation. Gurriny now operates multiple clinical services and programs that address health issues in Yarrabah and employs up to about 80 staff, with 70% who are local people.