Shining a light on the WestCare Health Centre

Shane Austin


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The issues our community faces are varied and complex. They span homelessness, domestic violence, social isolation, probation and parole, emergency food relief and health. Often these issues are so confronting, those affected choose to avoid seeking medical care.   

Dr Cesar Carillo and CEO Judy Hatswell from Sight For All with Shane Austin, CEO Baptist Care SA.

Baptist Care SA provides the WestCare Health Service so our community can have equal access to free, culturally safe and trauma-informed care. In partnership with several health services, we can connect our community with vital, life-changing, services.

Clinics located at the WestCare Centre include the services of nurses and dentists and physiotherapists who can work with our community in our small gym. These services are provided by staff, volunteers, and students, and we are extremely grateful for their support.  

Recently we celebrated one year of partnership with Flinders University and Sight For All who provide an eye clinic to our community, many of whom are Indigenous and three times more likely to experience vision loss or blindness than non-Indigenous people.  

Ninety per cent of vision loss and blindness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is preventable or treatable. Early intervention initiatives are vitally important in helping to save sight. Eye health initiatives, such as this are a positive step towards closing the vision gap.  

A member of our community has low vision and was gently coaxed into seeing Jose, an optometrist, at the eye clinic. On learning that the community member had Type 1 Diabetes and had received bilateral cataract surgery, Jose diagnosed severe non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy in both eyes, which if left untreated could lead to blindness within 12 months. 

Baptist Care SA arranged to the community member to be seen by an eye specialist. His Case Manager accompanied him to his appointment where he was given help to prevent further damage to his retina— and prevent blindness.  

For that community member to go to hospital shows the huge amount of trust they have placed in us. Trust that was built by every person interacted with at Baptist Care SA’s WestCare Centre, which helped them feel they could come to us for help and support.  

At Baptist Care SA’s WestCare Centre, our door is open for all our neighbours regardless of their circumstances. It can be a busy place; full of people using the shower and laundry facilities and grabbing a meal while catching up with friends.

In the rush of a typical day, when people in need come to us and there are meals to be served and support to be given, it is important to realise that amid the noise there are many gifts; both given and received. 

In taking a moment to reflect, it is important to remember that it is these gifts of compassion and unconditional love that unite us and remind us that there is no greater purpose than to use our gifts in the service of others.  

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