Health centre aims to close the gap in western Cape York town

Richard Dinnen - Queensland Editor |

Aileen Addo cuts the ribbon, officially opening the Thimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre (Brian Cassey
Apunipima )
Aileen Addo cuts the ribbon, officially opening the Thimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre (Brian Cassey Apunipima )

The town of Mapoon is celebrating the opening of its long-awaited primary health care centre, to be operated by Apunipima Cape York Health Council.

Apunipima is an Aboriginal community controlled health organisation providing health care services in 11 Cape York communities.

Until now, its Mapoon clinic worked from a donga it shared with Queensland Health. Mayor of Mapoon, Aileen Addo, said the new facility is a big step forward.

“This is something very positive, it’s been a long time coming but it’s finally here. This community is growing, and we have to build infrastructure to go with that growth.

“This is about more than just health. This is another strategy we’ve put in place to close the gap.

“This is about getting everything in order and seeing better outcomes like more community-based jobs, better infrastructure, and community development.”

The Chair of the Mapoon Health Action Team, Dawn Braun, said the new centre will have a positive impact on community health.

“This is so important for Mapoon, it’s what the community has asked for and what the community wanted. You can’t imagine how long we’ve waited for this.

“We desperately needed our own building so that we can increase services and provide culturally appropriate health care. We know this will make a big impact.”

The new centre, called Thimithi Nhii, will begin operations in the coming months, offering medical and allied health services, health promotion and prevention programs, and social and emotional wellbeing activities.

Centre manager, Debra Jia, said she hopes those services will continue to expand.

“When I’m 80 I want to be still coming to this centre and seeing it still expanding and growing with the community.

“There is so much more opportunity now for us to improve services and we’ll keep working with the Health Action Team and the community to achieve those goals.”

The town of Mapoon, 900 kilometres north-west of Cairns, is on the site of a mission established by the Moravian Church in the 1890s.

 In 1963, the Queensland Government forcibly evicted the residents of Mapoon to make way for mining. They were moved to a site near the northern tip of Cape York but were able to return and regain control of their land during the 1980s.