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Securing dialysis services in the Western Desert


A woman in a grey dress and colourful tights and a man in white shirt and blue trousers stand in front of a painted fence featuring a face, a bicycle and other designs of blue, green, red, yellow and purple.
CEO Sarah Brown and David Broughton from KPMG
29 Jun 2017

People who suffer from kidney disease need specialist medical treatment that is not always available in remote communities. Often, they often need to travel great distances for dialysis which means separation from family and community for long periods.

In 2003 the Pintupi people from the Western Desert areas of the Northern Territory and Western Australia found a solution. They set up their own organisation, the Western Desert Nganampa Waltja Palyantjaku Tjutaku (WDNWPT), commonly known as Western Desert Dialysis or Purple House.

They raised money from the sale of Indigenous art by Papunya Tula artists, through community fundraising, and government funding and have helped to build the organisation from one remote dialysis clinic to nine. It also has a mobile dialysis clinic called The Purple Truck.

However, securing nurses to administer the care was difficult. In February 2016, Jawun recruited David Broughton, National Talent Acquisition Lead from KPMG. His role was to develop strategies for recruitment and retention of nurses for Western Desert Dialysis.

David reviewed past recruitment practices then re-wrote all job advertising material. He engaged with many recruitment agencies. He posted compelling online advertisements or information packs to relevant job boards and networking sites used by specialist nurses.

He designed a survey for ex-nurses and applied what he learned during face-to-face and telephone interviews. He visited nurses in remote sites to understand first-hand the range of issues they face and how these influence their desire to stay in the role.

The immediate outcome was the recruitment of eight long-term nursing staff, with others on standby for future hire. This brought the staffing of Western Desert Dialysis back on track and saved around $50,000 in direct costs (agency fees, relocations etc.). It saved training costs for casual nurses who would otherwise have been hired.

David wrote a recruitment manual and guidelines to ensure effective hiring in the future. He coached the leadership on negotiating effectively with recruitment agencies, on interview techniques, and on framing adverts or information packs for likely candidates.

He put the organisation in direct digital contact with a pool of renal nursing professionals and agencies through online services such as LinkedIn.

CEO Sarah Brown said David got them out of a ‘pickle’.

“We now have a comprehensive recruitment plan for the future and have learnt what will help us,” Sarah said.

“The immediate impact for us is that we will be able to keep our dialysis clinics open due to the new nurses that were recruited within the time that David was here.”

Find out more

The WDNWPT is working with Indigenous leaders in the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) lands Empowered Communities region.

Empowered Communities is an initiative of Indigenous leaders from eight regions across the country, including the NPY lands, brought together by Jawun Corporate Partnerships. The Australian Government is supporting the regional implementation of Empowered Communities, including working with Empowered Communities leaders in each region to agree priorities and co-design strategies to address them.

Jawun is a not-for-profit organisation which links corporate, government and philanthropic organisations with Indigenous people to enable real change.

More information is available at Western Desert Dialysis.

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