Rotary 2019-20 DGs across Australia Indigenous Volunteer Program

Indigenous Health and Skills Project (through Purple House)


It is considered that Rotary can do a lot more to assist Australia’s Indigenous People by undertaking a coordinated approach of assistance rather than individuals or individual clubs acting by themselves on any one project.

Several discussions/meetings have been held with Rotary and Sarah Brown, the CEO of Purple House based in Alice Springs, who has been working in Indigenous communities for many years. Purple House provides dialysis in 14 remote communities in the NT, WA and SA. As a result of those discussions it is considered that the best program of assistance which can be offered is for Rotarians and Rotary volunteers to provide services that increase the skills and knowledge within the Indigenous communities while at the same time providing some improved facilities in outback indigenous communities. Training and mentoring in areas such as nursing, hygiene awareness (eliminate glaucoma), carpentry, plumbing and general building maintenance are proposed to be offered in a hands-on way; Rotarians without these qualifications who wish to contribute their time are encouraged to provide an Expression of Interest.

The program is proposed to be managed through the Purple House Volunteer Coordinator Program, based in Alice Springs, but providing assistance in remote indigenous community areas. The main target for volunteers will be from Rotary clubs and the caravan wandering Rotary Grey Nomads.

The volunteering program will be part of an initial broader Rotary Foundation Global Grant project providing additional dialysis machines and related equipment in the communities. The Global Grant application is presently being submitted.

2019-20 DGs across Australia have agreed to combine their efforts to introduce this program of medical and skills assistance for Indigenous People. It is intended that the program once started will be ongoing, sustainable and have scope for diversity.

DG Michael Cooke (Tasmania) already has a number of Tasmanian Rotarians who have expressed interest in being a part of the hands-on activities. Expressions of interest from all Australian Districts is now being sought.  When the list of volunteers has been compiled and the various work projects and times of visits have been determined all members of volunteer groups will need to ‘log in’ with Sarah Brown of Purple House prior to organising inductions, etc. to ensure good management of the services to be provided, and the materials required.
Prior to beginning assistance all volunteers will need induction regarding the activities and cultural issues of the indigenous populations. This will be done in Darwin; Alice Springs; or Coober Pedy.
Rotary 2019-20 DGs across Australia Indigenous Volunteer Program
Accommodation for volunteers will be by caravan (for those having them) with other accommodation to be organised.
The Rotary volunteer approach is actively being sought by the Purple House CEO Sarah Brown as she sees this project as one that can make a real difference to improving the health, comfort and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians and can be ongoing for decades.
It is proposed that Rotarians and friends of Rotary will nominate themselves now or in the coming years to be volunteers to travel to Darwin; Alice Springs; or Coober Pedy and undergo an induction program before going out to a nominated location, under instructions, to assist with Sarah’s programs.
There is no specific start date set for this program. The commencement of the program will be after the opening of boarders, closed due to the COVID-19 epidemic and will depend on the number of applicants and their expertise.
We ask that the applicants send an email to DG Michael Cooke to express their interest in joining this program, providing the following details: -
Rotary District and State/Territory
Volunteer Name
Contact Phone Number
Email Address 
Skill/Trade (if any)     
Dates Available (initially during the next 12 months)
Your Transport Type
We thank you for your interest and await your reply.
It is noted that the COVID-19 epidemic will hinder the commencement date of this program, awaiting the Northern Territory Government allowing access to the remote Indigenous communities, thus it will be some months before there will be a volunteer group proceeding.
9700 District Governor John McKenzie