The Purple Truck is a project of the Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation meaning ‘making our families well’, sponsored by Medicines Australia.
Fresenius Medical Care Australia is a proud supporter of the Purple Truck which has been designed as a mobile dialysis unit to assist Indigenous dialysis patients to spend time with their families and communities whilst undergoing dialysis treatments. For most people living in remote communities of central Australia, requiring dialysis is a one- way ticket to Alice Springs. For Indigenous Australians living in these remote communities, leaving home is not the same as going to a hospital 20 minutes from their neighbourhood. It typically means traveling hundreds of kilometres to Alice Springs and since treatment is multiple days a week, not coming back. This has devastating repercussions for the individual and their family as well as their community.
Without their families and being away from their communities, patients experience homelessness and loneliness in Alice Springs finding it extremely hard to find social support. In the words of one patient “I arrived here (Alice Springs Renal Unit) and have no way to leave this place. It’s as if I’m in a deep valley and can’t see the countryside. I feel claustrophobic. This big rock has hemmed me in and I’m claustrophobic. I don’t know what to do. I was thinking, oh - when will some of my family come and see me?”
In addition important members of the community are permanently removed from their communities. “Oral tradition is a crucial part of Aboriginal’ culture: Traditional knowledge manifested in song, is passed on from the old to the young. As it is mainly the older members who are affected, the community’s entire pool of knowledge is jeopardised,” says Sarah Brown (CEO of WDNWPT Aboriginal Corporation).
The Purple Truck has been covered in breathtaking artwork painted by the Papunya Tula artists - all of them dialysis patients themselves. It is large enough to accommodate all of the equipment and technology necessary to independently dialyse patients as well as a bathroom and sleeping quarters for staff. An on-board 900 litre water tank for dialysis and a 450 litre water tank for other uses as well as a generator ensure the continuity of dialysis in the many remote areas where these essential elements may not be available.
And so the Purple Truck is much more than a medical facility – it travels across the Western Desert to reunite people with their families, communities and land. It’s returning dialysis patients to country, even if it is only for a short visit.
For more information about the Purple Truck and the WDNWPT Aboriginal Corporation click here: http://www.westerndesertdialysis.com/the-purple-truck