The Anangu people of Yalata share significant health problems with the majority of Aboriginal communities in Australia. In the past Aboriginal people saw that mainstream health services were failing to meet their needs. This was because of barriers of culture and remoteness. To gain access to appropriate health services, Aboriginal people have been establishing independently incorporated and community controlled health services since the early 1970s. With these organisations in place communities elect their own Boards of Management to oversee the employment of staff and the planning, managing and delivery of primary health care services.
Yalata Maralinga Health Service Inc (YMHS) was established in 1982 following community initiative and lobbying. The health service was not only concerned with looking after people living in Yalata but also the older people who had returned to their traditional lands to the north. Over the years some of the old people had returned and established a permanent community at Oak Valley, northwest of Maralinga.
By the late 1990s Oak Valley was ready to establish its own health service called Oak Valley (Maralinga) Health Service (OV(M)). Many meetings took place at this time and it was agreed that OV(M) would be established under the following principles:
- The Anangu people of Yalata and Oak Valley are one people.
- Both YMHS and OV(M) should make sure that there are cooperative and “seamless” arrangements, for Anangu, between the health services.
The YMHS constitution was amended & adopted at a Special General Meeting on May 31st 2001 with the name of the organisation being changed to Tullawon Health Service Inc at this time. However the importance of the above two principles relating to services for the people of Yalata and Oak Valley is maintained in the current THS constitution.