The entitlement of not answering questions

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

“Can Aborigines go to hospital? Yes, good, but I live very close to a health clinic but was refused services because of my ethnicity.”

 

Evelyne Roullet said this in a comment on Tuesday.

 

It has revived a debate that started a year ago, again with some reprimanding of her.

 

But the Aboriginal organisation, which has a $50m budget, mostly from the public purse, has still not responded to the question raised.

 

Ms Roullet was referring to the opening in Hearne Place of a further clinic run by the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress.

 

The 76-year-old pensioner, who lives nearby, says she wanted to register as a patient but was told by Congress CEO Donna Ah Chee, in person: “You know very well it is for Aborigines only.”

 

Ms Roullet has lived in Alice Springs since 1974.

 

Before that she lived in the West African country Gabon where she experienced and learned to hate apartheid, and campaigned against it.

 

Ms Roullet has a long experience as a tour operator in Alice Springs, in her own business as well as for major companies such as AAT King.

 

She is also a keen commentator on social issues in the town.

 

The 2017/18 financial report, the most recent figures available, shows Congress had a total income of $49.5m and total assets of $33.2m.

 

The operating income was $41m from grants and contributions and $7.1m from Medicare and practice incentive payments.

 

Employee benefits were the major operating expense, amounting to $36.3m. There were 394 employees in that year.

 

We are contacting Congress to offer right of reply, but recent approaches have been ignored.

 

On April 24 last year we emailed a request for an interview with Ms Ah Chee about several issues. She did not grant it.

 

On October 24 last year, at the time Ms Roullet first raised this issue, we emailed the following question to the Congress directorate: “Are your clinics for Aboriginal people only?”

 

We received no reply.

 

 

 

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6 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Ralph
    Posted October 24, 2019 at 5:14 pm

    It isn’t correct that Congress treats only Aboriginal patients. Non Aboriginal family members of Congress staff are treated regardless of ethnicity.

    View Comment
  2. Really
    Posted October 18, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    Maybe Congress only treat Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people because they are only funded by the Government for this.
    And yes, maybe there are a lot of other services in Alice Springs only for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people because these services are possibly trying to Close the Gap in regards to health, education, employment, housing and any other services.
    It’s not for any other reason I believe than to give this people what they need to be on the same level as all Australians.

    View Comment
  3. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted October 18, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    James T Smerk: It is not a question of skin colour, because I have a friend, true blue, which partner is part Aborigine with a skin lighter than mine and both have the right to go to Congress clinics.
    I can understand her but him? Could Congress or Scott explain?

    View Comment
  4. James T Smerk
    Posted October 18, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    Wow, being denied for being a certain colour.
    I thought this was the kind of thing we (society) were trying to stop.
    But hey let’s let people die instead of helping them, surely goes against the Hippocratic oath.
    In our new world of inclusion sadly we still demand segregation.

    View Comment
  5. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted October 18, 2019 at 10:26 am

    Scott , maybe I went public to have an answer to the question asked by a lot of people, and you gave a very good explanation. Thank you. May be you work for Congress?
    But you are wrong about: “The Old Timers Village only allows elderly clients. Is this unfair too?”
    My son, an old Territorian and invalid, could have been admitted to the Old Timers but refused and passed away at home. He was only 52 years old
    In some areas of Australia, residential aged care has been the only supported accommodation available for younger people with disability who have high or complex care needs.

    View Comment
  6. Scott
    Posted October 17, 2019 at 9:35 pm

    The Old Timers Village only allows elderly clients. Is this unfair too?
    So if anyone goes to Congress medical clinics, then who is going to deal with the high levels of Indigenous medical issues? So ultimately if Congress Medical becomes a clinic for anyone then the Aboriginal people who need them will miss out and end up in hospital.
    If she has been here this long then she would remember the days of emergency being constantly filled with Aboriginal bush people. Congress has now reduced these non urgent attentions at Emergency to nearly zero.
    It seems this lady has great English speaking skills and communication and could easily and comfortably see any other clinic in Alice Springs without the problems that most of Congress clients would.
    Most other clinics in Alice Springs do not have the skills or training to facilitate Aboriginal bush people’s needs appropriately.
    I’m really not sure why she has chosen to go public with this? Surely the sensitive nature of such should have stayed private.
    Too many people having biased views about issues and an organisation they know nothing about other than what they read.
    See the day to day work that Congress provides with dignity and it is certainly something other clinics could learn from. Even the hospital.

    View Comment

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