News & Events

Monday January 10, 2022

Kids rolling up for vaccination

The COVID-19 vaccination rollout in Australia has expanded today to include children aged 5 – 11.

From Monday January 10, children aged 5 to 11 will be able to receive a child’s dose of the Pfizer’s Comirnaty vaccine.

With school recommencing early next month, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service GP, Dr Peter Roach is encouraging all Yarrabah parents to bring their children in to receive their first dose.

“Some children have an increased risk from COVID-19, these include children with an underlying medical condition.

“Children living in crowded conditions have an increased risk from COVID-19.

“We need to protect our families, communities and future,” he said.

Yarrabah residents can have their children vaccinated at the Bukki Road or Workshop Street Clinic. No appointment is necessary, as walk-up vaccinations are available.

Friday January 7, 2022

Vaccination rates continue to increase in Yarrabah – two new positive COVID cases

Yarrabah has confirmed their third positive COVID case after two health care workers tested positive yesterday (Thursday January 6).

Suzanne Andrews, chief executive of Gurriny Yealamucka confirmed the positive results from healthcare workers attached to Yarrabah Hospital and Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service Aboriginal Corporation.

“Both staff members were fully vaccinated in line with the Queensland Health mandate and pose a moderate to low risk to others in the community,” Ms Andrews said.

Staff and patients who were close contacts of the case will all be contacted and offered testing. 

Gurriny Yealamucka and Yarrabah ED are increasing testing and vaccination services in Yarrabah.

 “It was inevitable that we would see COVID cases within our community, given our proximity to Cairns and the many cases within the wider region.

“Some of our healthcare workers live in Cairns, commuting daily to work, we were always a community at risk.

“Our vaccination rates with Yarrabah are actually very positive, with 73.6 per cent fully vaccinated and 87.1 per cent having received their first dose. 

“Our Community Health workers have worked tirelessly over the past year, to lift our vaccination rates. We encourage residents, if they have any symptoms, even if only mild, come down to Yarrabah Hospital for testing, we have increased our testing and vaccination capacity.”

12 November 2021
Health and Wellbeing Centre, Workshop St
At the National Sustainability Awards on November 11th, our new clinic at Workshop Street got the Highly Commended Award in the category in which we were nominated. Our architects People Oriented Design, Shaneen and Belinda, won the national award for Women in Sustainability. This is a huge honour for them. It was a fantastic night and once again put Gurriny and Yarrabah on the national stage.

On Thursday November 11th, we held our Grand Opening of the Workshop St Clinic where we were treated to some inspiring and motivating speeches by our CEO Sue Andrews and Mayor of Yarrabah, Ross Andrews; led in prayer by Chair Les Baird; spoilt with delicious food by Ochre Restaurant Cairns and entertained with incredible dance and traditional smoking ceremony by Buri Guman (One Fire). 

Please see photos below from this event and thank you to all who were involved in this fantastic and much awaited day!

Image below by Christine Howe.

12 October 2021
Health and Wellbeing Centre, Workshop St

Gurriny Yealamucka Health and Wellbeing Centre (Gurriny) is a new facility for primary health and community outreach services on Gunggandji Country in the First Nations community of Yarrabah, Queensland. Gurriny Yealamucka means “Good Healing Water” in the language of the Gunggandji Peoples. This narrative is embedded in the design of the new centre, in its response to site, and in design features and elements within the building and landscape.

The project approaches sustainability from a holistic perspective and has been created to acknowledge, respect and respond to its cultural, social and climatic environment. The result is a wellbeing centre that responds to Country and culture, is well designed for the climate and location, and is a non-institutional place designed to support Indigenous models of health care. The centre was designed by People Oriented Design in collaboration with Coburn Architecture, the senior management team of Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service, and Gunggandji elders.

The building has multiple exits and entries to respect local social structures and privacy. It contains welcoming and nurturing reception, waiting and meeting spaces, and integrated artworks by local Indigenous artists that tell ancestral stories about Country and healing. The landscape and outdoor areas include a bush food garden, with endemic plants collected by the Gunggandji Rangers, a yarning circle, flexible connected indoor/outdoor waiting spaces for different families and cultural groups. It has embedded within it, a 20KW solar system, recycled and sustainable materials choices, options for natural ventilation, and a backup generator to ensure the service can continue in extreme climatic events.

This community health clinic was funded by The Australian Government Department of Health with the support of Gurriny Yealamucka (Good Healing) Aboriginal Corporation. 

As many would be aware, the Health and Wellbeing Centre in Workshop St is now up and running, successfully delivering multiple clinics and general health services.

12 October 2021
Australian Sustainability Awards 

It is with great pride we are happy to share that our new health clinic on Workshop Street has been shortlisted for the Australian Sustainability Awards in November in the small commercial category.

We were one of six to be shortlisted.

Also, our architects were shortlisted in the Women in Sustainability Category.

Amazing news and a very exciting opportunity for everyone involved!

11th October 2021
Media Release: CQUniversity Australia

Giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth a Voice in Mental Health Care


Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations have recognised the need for improved mental health and social and emotional wellbeing supports for Indigenous youth. Prompted by this concern, a CQUniversity research team, led by Professor Janya McCalman, is working with Indigenous organisations and youth to co-design the improvement of current services to provide optimal care to Indigenous youth. The researchers held yarning circles with Indigenous young people and service providers to share their stories about the current state of mental health and wellbeing services and give their suggestions about how these could be improved.


Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service – Yarrabah, Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Service- Casino, Deadly Inspiring Youth Doing Good (DIYDG) and Queensland Government (Advance Queensland).


This research responds to policy calls for Indigenous community-driven initiatives to improve extant mental healthcare for Indigenous youth. The findings have been fed back to the community service providers and Indigenous youth to inform the co-design of novel youth-guided and community-driven ways to support mental health services for youth wellbeing.

Professor Janya McCalman, Tina McDonald and Nicole CaelliIshak

An annual Australian youth survey has shown that 43.7 per cent of Indigenous youth feel stressed all or most of the time – in fact, according to the Mission Australia survey results, their top two personal concerns are stress and mental health issues.

These declining mental health rates of Indigenous Australians have been of particular concern to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations in diverse communities, who have partnered with CQUniversity researchers to develop new responses to the high and increasing rates of Indigenous youth mental health problems.

The CQUniversity researchers have been working to conceptualise, co-design and evaluate community-driven systems-level integration with the aim to promote the mental health and wellbeing of Indigenous school-aged children and youth aged five to 18 years.

According to lead researcher Professor Janya McCalman, there have been 16 Australian Government policy documents between 2013 to 2018 that outline the need for improved mental health and social and emotional wellbeing supports for Indigenous communities.

The Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and social and emotional wellbeing outlined a vision for ‘the highest attainable standard of social and emotional wellbeing and mental health’ supported by ‘mental healthcare and related services that are effective, high quality, clinically and culturally appropriate, and affordable.

'But the problem is that there is little evidence for what best practice Indigenous mental health care looks like, or how current services and systems can be improved to provide optimal care,' she explains.

In response, Professor McCalman chose to take a place-based approach with Yarrabah, Cairns and Casino partners, where she hosted yarning circles (conversational focus groups) and consultations with 60 health, education, mental health, and other related human service providers and Indigenous youth.

'We asked Indigenous young people and service providers to share their stories about the current state of mental health and wellbeing services and give their suggestions about how these could be improved.'

Key insights from the yarning circles demonstrated that communities agree that improvements need to be community-driven and youth-guided with service providers recognising current services and systems were not working well.

Feeling reluctant to seek help was the overall message of the youth participants with a lack of awareness of support services, safety and relationality at the stem of this reluctance. A Casino youth said: ‘I had family and friends really push me to go get the support I needed before things took a turn and got worse … It was like mostly my mum.’

The four strategies identified by youth to improve mental health and wellbeing support services were youth specific information and awareness about mental health; safe and available points of contact; access to youth facilities, space and activities; and supporting recovery of youth with mental illness.

'Overall, the focus for improvements differs, with Casino service providers identifying the need for a youth space, whereas in Yarrabah, the focus was on supporting youth voice and governance. The feedback from service providers and youth about priority strategies will be integrated with the models and used to guide community implementation and research evaluation,' says Professor McCalman.

During the yarning circles, the research team also examined how COVID-19 has impacted Indigenous adolescent mental health. Supported by a $150 000 Advance Queensland fellowship, the insights will be used to improve recovery and preparedness for future pandemics.

'For students in Yarrabah, the community lockdown meant that schooling was disrupted. Seventy students from 12 boarding schools returned home, but with limited internet access, available educational spaces, or IT equipment, it was difficult for schools to provide support. Re-establishing schooling routines and academic catch up also became challenging for many students,' Professor McCalman explains.

'From the primary healthcare services’ perspective, the immediate responses to the COVID threat such as preventing entry of the virus and providing a secure food supply and community education during lockdown meant they were not able to prioritise youth wellbeing.'

Professor McCalman believes that the long-term objective, to support implementation and evaluation of the agreed co-designed community models, will enhance communities’ preventive and early intervention mental healthcare responses in the future.

The research team will continue to work in collaboration with youth and service providers in Yarrabah, Cairns and Casino over the five-year project with findings suggesting continued engagement between Indigenous youth and community-based service providers is vital.

Please watch the video below.

13 April 2021 

Media Release: Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service 

Three new kidney dialysis chairs for Yarrabah 

More people can now receive kidney dialysis in Yarrabah with three extra dialysis chairs opening at the local Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation (Gurriny) today.

The expanded dialysis unit will be able to dialyse 14 Yarrabah patients (eight of whom previously travelled to Cairns up to three times a week for dialysis).

This investment in dialysis at Yarrabah by the Queensland Government’s First Nations COVID-Three new kidney dialysis chairs for Yarrabah 19 project brings the total number of dialysis chairs in Yarrabah to seven. The funding allows for up to 20 more Yarrabah residents to receive dialysis treatment in their home community.

Executive Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health at Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service Joy Savage welcomed the expanded service and said it was stood up in record time.

“This time last year, the COVID-19 pandemic combined with the then biosecurity arrangements posed new challenges for patients, communities and the health system,” said Ms Savage

“Our Health Service moved quickly to work with Gurriny to expand the existing satellite dialysis service to deliver additional sessions, allowing more people to receive treatment in community, close to home, and on country,” said Ms Savage.

“This was possible thanks to the extraordinary commitment and determination of Gurriny’s leadership team, together with expert teams from Queensland Health,” said Ms Savage.

Sue Andrews, Chief Executive at Gurriny said the extension to the dialysis facility is whole-heartedly welcomed by patients.

“It will improve our patient’s lives on a daily basis, improve the lives of their families and our community as a whole.” 

“We thank everyone involved who came together to make this extended and much-needed service a reality.”

“At Gurriny, we value the responsibility of providing a quality health service to all residents of Yarrabah,” said Ms Andrews.

Dr Jason King, Senior Medical Officer at Gurriny said kidney disease is a serious health problem for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Dialysis is the leading cause of hospitalisation accounting for almost half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospital admissions,” he said.

“We welcome access to the increased number of dialysis chairs for the people of Yarrabah suffering with severe kidney disease but as a service we are firmly committed to preventing people from needing this service in the future.

“Our partnership with the Health Service allows us to deliver a culturally appropriate model-of-care to our people on their land and the ability to provide the Yarrabah community the highest quality primary care service,” said Dr King.

This expansion at Yarrabah is part of a wider expansion of dialysis services in the greater Cairns region.

“The opening of Cairns South Health Facility in Edmonton late last year, provided an additional 12 dialysis chairs, reducing the need for many patients living on the southside to travel to and from Cairns Hospital three times a week,” said Ms Savage. 


·        Previously there were eight patients receiving dialysis in Yarrabah and up to eight requiring transport to Cairns.

·        The service is now able to dialyse 14 patients in Yarrabah which is currently the total number of patients requiring dialysis from the community.

·        A further 14 patients can be dialysed in the future. 


Media enquiries: Jedess Hudson – First Nations COVID-19 Principal Communication and Engagement Officer on (07) 4226 3796.

December 2020


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