Hedland Aboriginal Health Service Wirraka Maya has honoured the 20 year work anniversary of one of their beloved Aboriginal health practitioners, Gary ‘Skip’ Brahim. Born and bred in Hedland, Mr Brahim is a much loved member of the community and is passionate about advocating for Aboriginal Health and providing care to his patients at Wirraka Maya. He said that although as a teenager he thought he might like to work in health, it wasn’t until he was planting trees as a part of a land care management program in remote aboriginal communities that he was driven to make his career change happen. “Seeing the health clinics out in the communities, I thought they might need some male health workers, so I decided to give it a go,” Mr Brahim said. Since then, Mr Brahim said he has seen a ‘big improvement’ in health services accessible to the community, both in Hedland and in remote communities in the Pilbara. “Being a part of Wirraka Maya from when it was a small little clinic in Port Hedland to what it is today has been great,” he said “Back then, having an Aboriginal Health Service was a new thing, and there was a lack of doctors in the area at the time so we had a lot of non-indigenous people using our service too. “They still continue to use our service today because they like the friendly, caring service we provide.” Mr Brahim said some of his biggest highlights in the past 20 years included travelling overseas and around Australia for conferences and contributing to important research into Aboriginal wellbeing. “Being the first to make it to 20 years is also a great achievement,” he said. Mr Brahim said uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine was one of the biggest challenges he had seeing in Aboriginal communities. “Educating Aboriginal people to get vaccinated is what we are trying to do, some have stepped up, but there is a lot still lagging,” he said. “Rather than driving the message to get vaccinated down from upstairs, it needs to start at a grassroots level.” Mr Brahim saidmore Aboriginal men needed to take up healthcare careers to become role models for their communities.