Driven by ‘what good looks like’ in very remote health

  • Emily Carter, CEO, Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre.

Emily Carter, CEO, Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre.

Emily Carter is a proud Gooniyandi and Kija woman and CEO of Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre (MWRC) in the Fitzroy Valley in Western Australia. She is passionate about enhancing wellbeing and creating opportunities for families to thrive in her community, ensuring that their voices lead in the planning and transforming of their futures. Her amazing work deserves to be showcased.

MWRC is a place of inspiration, and the organisation aims to strengthen families, support children and youth to thrive, and facilitate community participation in both the economy and all other aspects of life.

Emily is passionate about showing people in the Fitzroy Valley ‘what good looks like’, with a strong belief in bringing equality and opportunity to everyone. As an Aboriginal woman and staunch advocate, Emily is committed to community-led change so that her grandchildren have a better future. She campaigned for liquor restrictions and, with her team, leads the Marulu Strategy, which is a community-led strategy developed to address fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and complex trauma in the Fitzroy Valley.

Emily’s visionary approach includes MWRC’s partnership with Manly-based children’s charity, Royal Far West. After Emily and other key leaders saw for themselves what was possible, they have tirelessly worked with the Royal Far West team to develop a model of care that addresses the complex needs of children and families in the very remote Kimberley Region of Western Australia.

The two organisations formed a deep, long-term partnership – the Marurra-U Partnership – which centres on a collaborative, community-led approach and a shared vision that children across the Fitzroy Valley have the opportunity to be resilient and healthy, with their individual, family and community needs being met. ‘Marurra-U’ is a Bunuba word meaning ‘to embrace with love and care’.

The work of the Marurra-U Partnership has resulted in the development and piloting of innovative telecare and in-person supported models of ‘wraparound’ service that are tested and adapted to respond to the specific needs of Fitzroy Valley communities. These have included family camps, local service and school capacity building, assessment services, allied health telecare and therapy models. The aim is to advance the health and development of children and their families in the Fitzroy Valley, with a particular focus on trauma-aware and trauma-informed approaches. Emily repeatedly advocates for improved services and is driven by her belief that your postcode shouldn’t determine what level of service you receive.

Emily regularly contributes input to local, state and federal governments to improve the health and wellbeing of Fitzroy Valley communities directly, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples generally.

She continuously mentors local staff to grow into professional and community leadership roles. She is also regularly consulted, both formally and informally, to review research plans, policies and program initiatives, including through the many expert testimonials and input she has provided, both in Australia and around the world. Her recent work driving real access to the NDIS in the Fitzroy Valley is another example of her game-changing work. Highlighting need and believing in a better future drives her work.

Emily exemplifies the kind of transformation that is possible when communities seize full power over decisions and resources to determine and demand what health services and partnerships they need and want in their communities, how those partnerships will operate, and ‘what good looks like’ for those communities. Emily and her team at MWRC have shown that, with this approach, the previously ‘impossible’ very remote service access that responds to specific community needs becomes infinitely possible.

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