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Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, an Aboriginal community - controlled health service providing care to Aboriginal people across the vastness of Central Australia, is proudly “going green”.

The organisation has recently converted the power system at the busy Gap Clinic in Alice Springs to solar. 

In line with Congress’ commitment to supporting Aboriginal suppliers, Indigenous-owned Dynamic Solutions cleverly constructed the solar panels as part of the verandah’s shade, one of the many Aboriginal businesses that is engaged to complete work for the organisation. 

Three other Indigenous-owned businesses, Mack Constructions NT, Jayson Crayford Building Services and Black Arc Industries also worked on the Gap Clinic project. 

“Among other benefits, solar will save us a great deal in power costs,” says facilities manager John Clarke. 

Congress would like all its 40 buildings to one day be solar-powered. 

The upcoming Congress Health Hub, which is expected to open next year, is the first building in Alice Springs to achieve a Six Green Star rating. 

Congress was formed at a meeting in Alice Springs on 9 June 1973, when more than 100 Aboriginal people from Alice Springs and remote communities met to talk about the need to safeguard and promote the interests of their communities. 

“We started with a tent program,” says John. “We’ve come a long way since we were founded.” 

Congress employs about 600 staff in Alice Springs and in remote clinics. Last year, three additional remote community-run clinics were brought under the Congress umbrella. 

“We are expanding very rapidly, and the health industry makes an impact on the environment, making it very important for services to be prioritising sustainability measures while providing much-needed, life-saving health services,” says John. 

Congress’ Board is a strong advocate for Aboriginal people on the many issues that impact health. This includes climate change, an issue that is especially relevant to the higher proportions of Aboriginal people living in poverty, having low-quality drinking water and living in poor housing. 

“We look forward to continuing to take these practical steps to reduce our impact on the environment.”