In the 1990’s Pintupi Luritja people from the Western Desert communities of Kiwirrkurra, Mt Liebig and Kintore grew concerned about their family members being forced to move away from community to receive treatment for end stage renal failure. Leaving behind their homes and families to access dialysis treatment in Alice Springs they experienced great hardship, and people worried about the future of their communities without senior Pintupi there to provide leadership and pass on cultural knowledge. Determined that renal failure should not be a one way ticket to Alice Springs, away from family, country and everything important, senior men and women created four collaborative paintings. With the help and support of Papunya Tula Artists, Sothebys and local NT politicians, these were auctioned at the Art Gallery of NSW on the 11th of November 2000 raising over $1 million dollars to set up a dialysis service in Kintore. Since the commencement of dialysis treatment in Kintore in 2004 we have grown to have dialysis units in 8 remote communities, as well as at the Purple House in Alice Springs. The Purple Truck, our mobile dialysis unit, gives patients the opportunity to spend time in their home communities where there is not a permanent dialysis unit. In 2003 we were incorporated as Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation (WDNWPT). Our name means ‘Making all our families well’ and it recognises that people must be able to stay on country, to look after and be looked after by their families. WDNWPT has an all Indigenous governing committee who are elected by our members. We provide a range of services including:
- dialysis in Alice Springs, Kintore, Yuendumu, Ntaria (Hermannsburg), Lajamanu, Warburton, Kiwirrkurra, Yirrkala, Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa) and Wanarn.
- a mobile dialysis service via The Purple Truck
- safe travel to communities for funerals and community events
- social support, advocacy and wellbeing activities for dialysis patients dislocated from their community
- health promotion and education, primary health care and allied health services
Western Desert Dialysis is always willing to share our story and provide advice and support to other communities who want to establish their own dialysis service.