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Mawarnkarra hits back over claims ban was because of story, says people had been banned over behaviour

Claire SadlerPilbara News
Mawarnkarra Health Services. Inset: Tangiora Hinaki.
Camera IconMawarnkarra Health Services. Inset: Tangiora Hinaki. Credit: Main pic: Courtney Fowler. Inset: Alexander Scott

An Aboriginal medical service accused of prohibiting a local journalist from accessing treatment at its clinic over her coverage of the death of a man at the facility has hit back, saying people were banned over “abusive behaviour”.

Ngaarda Media chief executive Tangiora Hinaki said she received a letter saying she could no longer attend the clinic because “Mawarnkarra was only funded to provide services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”.

But she believes it was more likely a ban after her coverage of the shock death of a man using the facility’s dialysis machines.

Tangiora Hinaki
Camera IconTangiora Hinaki Credit: Alexander Scott/Pilbara News/Pilbara News

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Police were called to the facility at 7.30am the following Monday, February 22, when they found the man’s lifeless body still at the clinic.

The deceased person was non-Aboriginal and believed to be local to the West Pilbara area, but had no family in the region.

In response to Ms Hinaki’s claims, a Mawarnkarra spokesperson said the centre had banned a number of patients because of abusive behaviour.

“Over the past few years, the Mawarnkarra Health Service Board has made the decision to withdraw services for a few former clients, predominantly due to verbal and online abuse or threats of violence toward our staff,” they said.

“Our top priority has to be the safety and wellbeing of our staff and other clients. We have a zero-tolerance approach when it comes to abuse, which is in line with our code of conduct.

“Those who have been asked not to attend MHS have been offered prescriptions for any existing medical conditions while they find another healthcare provider.”

The Mawarnkarra spokesperson said health services were available at Roebourne Hospital, Karratha Health Campus, and through several GPs operating in Karratha.

“MHS is a high-performing service which consistently exceeds national benchmarks where we treat our patients with dignity and respect and expect the same in return,” they said.

“We have a complaints process in place through which members of the community can express any feedback directly to the board.”

Mawarnkarra Health Service’s Dr Seema Basil was recently named GP of the year at a Statewide awards night.

The WA Rural Health Excellence Awards recognise WA medical professionals who go above and beyond the call of duty in their commitment to provide care and improve the health of regional and remote communities.

The $1.8 million four-chair home dialysis facility at Mawarnkarra opened in 2018.

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