Sunday, July 7, 2013

On Inspiration - Purple House

On my trip to the Northern Territory just over a week ago I saw a heap of great meeting and event sites but what made the biggest impression on me was some of the inspirational speakers we had a chance to listen to.

We are lucky to live in a country where our Governments provide a fantastic range of services.  But Governments are often incredibly risk adverse, so it is my experience that if you want to see real innovation and new thinking, you have to look at the community sector.  And that was born out by my visit to the "Purple House" dialysis centre in Alice Springs.

The people of the Western Desert were one of those groups terribly affected by some of the shocking policies that used to exist around Indigenous people in this country.  They had been removed from their homelands and shunted around various missions and stations, till they managed to get themselves back to their homelands in the early 80's.

This was all wonderful until kidney disease started to strike in the community and those affected needed dialysis.  The closest centre for dialysis was Alice Springs, some 300km away.  If you know anything about dialysis, you will know that each treatment takes many hours and must be done around 3 times a week.  Effectively this meant that people had to move to Alice Springs, another tribe's country, far away from their community.  Needing dialysis was essentially a sentance of exile till death.

As a result the community wanted to develop the capability to have dialysis in their own community.  They were told by governments that it could not be done but they were determined and through an aboriginal art auction they raised enough for the initial program to be undertaken.

Since then the Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation - referred to as the Purple House owing to the purple colour of the centre in Alice Springs - has established a number of dialysis units in remote communities and now has a truck that can travel around and do dialysis.

We were lucky enough to met Sarah Brown, the CEO of Purple House.  She was truly inspirational.  Full of enthusiasm, zeal and optimism. She is truly the kind of person who gets stuff done.  Sarah is definitely one of the reasons why Purple House is such a success and I find it really inspiring to meet someone who does so much for a community that is not hers by birth, but definitely is by adoption.

You can read more about Purple House and even make a donation at their website.


  1. Thank you for sharing the good work of the Purple House, Lisa.

    SSG xxx

  2. What an inspiration story. Also what a heart breaking story - to think what it was like before the Purple House initiative took hold. It is tough out in the centre of Australia, that is for sure.