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Transplant Australia is proud to announce an initiative to address the growing incidence of kidney disease in Central Australia.

The MALPA project aims to provide a range of services and education to respond to the significant unmet needs of remote communities afflicted by renal disease and to engage in health promotion to help reverse the current trends. 

MALPA is a word widely used across the traditional groups of Central Australia [Pintupi, Arrente, Warlpiri, Pitjantjatjara, Yankuntatjara, Luritja, Anmatyerr, etc]. It means friend or companion. The MALPA project also creates opportunities to develop authentic relationships and understanding between Aboriginal people and other Australians.

Underlying every aspect of MALPA is the desire to develop opportunities for dialysis patients, their carers and other Aboriginal people to be deeply involved in the design and provision of services and to take responsibility not only for their own health needs but those of their communities.

The projects include a Return to Country program for dialysis patients otherwise indefinitely stuck in Alice Springs, culturally sensitive patient support programs, health promotion and education activities, and the formation of a patient advocacy group.

The Challenge

Kidney failure runs as much as fifty times the national average in some Aboriginal communities.
Transplantation rates are less than a third of the national average and is virtually unheard
of for people in the Central Australia.

In Central Australia alone, nearly 200 Aboriginal people have already been dislocated from their Country for indefinite haemodialysis treatment in Alice Springs.

For some patients ‘home’ is 700 kilometres away. A further 250 people have been identified
as “pre-dialysis” and will soon need to begin their treatment. Those people forced from their remote communities
to receive dialysis in Alice Springs have come from groups who have the highest incidence of kidney failure in Australia.

• Most speak little or no English and there are few interpreter services available
• Most never get the chance to go home to see families, maintain customs or connect with their sacred Country
• Family budgets are decimated
• Many choose to die on their Country rather than fracture their families and communities by their absence
• Traditional social and family customs are destroyed

How will MALPA help?

Dulcie Brown NampitjinpaMany Aboriginal people are at high risk of suffering kidney failure due to a diet of introduced foods and changed living conditions.  Malpa will assist  Aboriginal people to better manage the increasing burden of kidney disease in their communities, and to prevent future generations from following this trend.

A key focus will be to significantly improve the level of understanding of renal disease amongst Aboriginal dialysis patients and their families.

Projects are being developed that use art and story telling to help educate people about why they are becoming sick and what their treatment options are.

Dulcie Brown Nampitjinpa

This MALPA project will mean:

• Better understanding of dialysis and transplantation issues
• Increased attendance rates at dialysis centres
• Stronger families
• Stronger communities
• Reduced social impact of family poverty

This is not a hand out, but a hand up.

Be part of the Solution

two dollarEvery two dollar coin contains the image of a Western Desert Pintupi man on one side. The coin becomes a daily reminder of the aspirations of Aboriginal people and how non-Indigenous Australians can help them rekindle hope.

The coin provides a simple, powerful and effective way for Organisations and individuals become MALPAs by arranging simple, regular payroll deductions. All donations are tax deductable. MALPAs also have the chance to spend time with Aboriginal people helping, learning and making friends.

Painting for a Future

IreneFamous Aboriginal artists are painting their stories on the dialysis machines which are the only means of survival or increasing numbers in Central Australia. The machines will be taken around the world to raise awareness of the importance of giving the world’s oldest continuous cultures a chance to create a future. This project is generously supported by Fresenius Medical Care who are the manufacturers and suppliers of the machines.

 Dialysis Machine Art Symbolism

Irene Nangala


More Information

Don Palmer
Project Director  

0417 297 010