About us

South Coast Medical Service (SCMSAC) Aboriginal Corporation is a Non-Government (NGO), Not For Profit (NFP) which is a highly regarded Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) providing health and health related services relevant to the wellbeing and to the benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities throughout the Shoalhaven.

Today, the SCMSAC operates out of 8 sites providing holistic primary health care and other health related services including improving the equity of access to mainstream services for the Aboriginal communities in the Shoalhaven.

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Our History

Early in the 1980’s Jane Ardler and other members of the local Aboriginal Communities were concerned about the lack of cultural understanding of many of the local health service providers. Jane and her colleagues believed that the local health practitioners had little or no understanding of the Aboriginal people in the area and what little they had was based on stereotyped concepts of drug & alcohol related problems. Consequently, they approached Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service who at the time, were running an innovative and effective medical service. They sought advice on setting up a similar health care program for the South Coast.

The South Coast Aboriginal Medical Service commenced operations in 1982 in Nowra, solely through the generosity and support of the Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service and the local Steering Committee. The Organisation was incorporated on 18th January 1983, and with the assistance of Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service the Committee applied for funding to operate and expand the service from various Local, State and Federal Departments.

In 1986, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA later as ATSIC) agreed to fund, in addition to the Doctor (gap after bulkbilling) and Receptionist wages, an Administrator and two Health Workers and all operating costs. The NSW Department of Health under an enhancement program provided funds to employ a Public Health Worker and a specific Drug and Alcohol Worker in 1988 and in 1989 a Health Care Assistant. Sadly in March 1990 Jane Ardler the Administrator passed away.

In June 1990 funding provided by the NSW Department of Health ceased due to service provision concerns. ATSIC also ceased the funding for the fulltime Doctor as they felt the area had enough General Practitioners to meet the needs of the local population. However, the centre continued to operate with a part-time Doctor, 3 Health Workers, an Administrator and some volunteers. In April 1991 ATSIC advised they would cease funding the South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation for possible duplication and non-compliance to funding regulations. An appeal was lodged but was disallowed. From July 1991 the Staff (without wages) continued to operate the program with the assistance of volunteers.

In July 2002 the SCMSAC was funded to provide health, medical and other relevant services to the Aboriginal community and improve equity of access to mainstream health services.

Today the SCMSAC continues to provide a myriad of Health Services to the Shoalhaven area that includes: General Practice, General/Public Health, Dental, Regional and Local Substance Use, Community Social and Emotional Wellbeing, Permanency Support (Out of Home Care), Children and Family Support and HIV/Sexual Health Services.




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