The Centre, which will be officially opened by Independent Federal Member for New England, Tony Windsor MP, will run the successful 'Gomeroi gaaynggal - Gomeroi babies' program that was launched in February 2010.
The Gomeroi gaaynggal program led by Professor Roger Smith* and Dr Kym Rae from the University of Newcastle, comprises two parts - a scientific research program and an ArtsHealth program delivered to Aboriginal women of childbearing age.
“The ultimate focus of the Centre is to understand the causes of kidney failure and diabetes in Aboriginal people. To do this we are going back to the beginning and examining possible causes of premature birth and the births of small babies and babies with reduced renal function in the Indigenous community,” Professor Smith said.
The scientific research part of the program is supported by providing a welcoming environment at the Centre for expectant mothers and their families, including an art studio.
In the studio mothers work on their art and at the same time talk to health practitioners about health issues including nutrition, diet and exercise. Older mothers also have the opportunity to pass on knowledge to the younger mothers.
Mr Windsor said the opening of the Centre was a step in the right direction to improving the health of Indigenous people.
“This approach has great scientific potential and is being warmly welcomed by the local Indigenous and non-indigenous community,” Mr Windsor said.
The biomedical research program is funded by National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Kidney Health Australia, and HMRI. The ArtsHealth program is funded by the Thyne Reid Foundation and the ArtsHealth group at the University of Newcastle.
* Professor Roger Smith leads the Mothers and Babies Research Centre within the University of Newcastle's Priority Research Centre for Reproductive Science. He also leads the HMRI Pregnancy and Reproduction Research Program. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.
Photo opportunity: The official opening of Gomeroi gaaynggal Centre will be held Saturday 20 November from 11am at 2/1 Hinkler Street, Tamworth.
For interviews: Professor Roger Smith 0409 043 352 or Independent Member for New England, Tony Windsor MP, 02 6761 3080.