"We've never had a lift," Jo Warren exclaims as the tour continues around BADAC's new medical centre.
The Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative, now in its 40th year, opened its state-of-the-art new facility on Armstrong Street earlier this year.
Ms Warren, the executive manager of health and home supports, said she immensely proud of the new building, the culmination of a years-long expansion plan to keep up with Ballarat's growing population.
Attached to the older building is a large open-plan meeting place, with an outdoor area for smoking ceremonies.
The Tree Room, as it's come to be known, is decorated with paintings from local artists, photos of elders, and a surprising light display.
The attention to detail continues into the clinic itself - a chandelier hangs down into the reception, with glass sourced from traditional custodians.
There's five consulting rooms, large maternal and child health and pathology spaces, and five more rooms for nurses and Aboriginal health workers.
Space for specialists, including visiting geriatricians, optometrists, podiatrists, and more, is also available, and Ms Warren said the rooms are flexible enough for others as well.
A focus is on diabetes health, a major health issue for Indigenous people.
Former chairperson Faye Clarke, a Gunditjmara, Wotjobaluk and Ngarrindjeri woman, became a nurse to help the community, and is now a diabetes educator at BADAC.
She said having the new facility, with its focus on culturally safe practices, had begun to make a huge difference for her patients.
"People feel comfortable about coming here to the co-op," she said.
"You invite them in, they know that we're working with the doctors together, we're a team, so we can do everything here.
"The cultural safety part is paramount for the people that come here, so they're looking for a service that understands their lives as Aboriginal people."
Upstairs, the emotional and social wellbeing team has set up shop - there's another five professional therapy rooms, including a double-sized family room, and kitchen facilities for nutrition workshops.
The wellbeing team's manager, Peter Treloar, agreed with Ms Clarke - having the right facilities, and the space for more staff, is improving outcomes.
"Often, we require people to see a GP to be referred to us so having the clinic downstairs is wonderful," he said.
"It gives us an option to increase our workforce, we've currently got several new positions coming on board like youth mental health and sexual assault counselling, and other drug and alcohol positions - we're filling our space very quickly.
"I started in 2012 and there were two of us, but soon there will hopefully be 15 staff, just in mental health and drug and alcohol (counselling)."
New programs, like Kandorr-HEAL, can be run properly as well in the upstairs kitchen and meeting space, according to chronic disease nurse Pheona Griffith.
"Kandorr means path, or track, in the local Wauthorong language," she said.
"We bring in a group of people, there's some education on a Tuesday followed by supportive gym, and then on Thursday we reconnect and either do gym as a group, or we do cooking skills.
"I was finding people weren't comfortable with their cooking skills - I had 40-year-olds who hadn't cut an onion, so it's about feeling comfortable in that safe space and actually learning how to cook and prepare healthy food for the family.
"One size doesn't fit all, it's about thinking outside the box to support people through the program."
BADAC's chief executive Karen Heap said the co-op was struggling in its old building - for example, pathology and podiatry shared a room, and only one specialist could use it at a time.
"We just didn't have enough space, it was really tiny," she said.
"We were increasing our services, at that stage we had some really good doctors in place, and we just felt that we would grow further - just from the 15 years we've been here, we started off with a population of around 600 people, and we're now up to about 3000 in Ballarat and district.
"We're talking about huge growth in not such a long time - what's it going to be like in another 10 years?"
Her advice for other Aboriginal community-controlled health services was simple - get a professional grants writer and make it as easy as possible to get funding.
"I think BADAC is leading the way to a certain degree," she said.
"There's other ACCHOs out there that certainly have remarkable places, Rumbalara (in Shepparton) and MADAS - in Mildura - they've developed and grown over the years, but they've got higher populations in the area too, of Aboriginal people.
"We're certainly up there as far as people do take notice of what Ballarat's doing and want to know how to do it, and I'm happy to provide any support they need to help them get funding too, and I think for us, it's been an absolute asset to have a grants writer."
The ultimate goal for the co-op, other than look after the Indigenous community in the district, is self-determination, she added.
The medical centre is a step on that path, with more jobs and income for Indigenous people.
"That's the vision, self-determination, to be self-reliant without government funding, because then you've got open range to actually do the things we want to do without government telling you what to do," she said.
"How do you actually service your community without the government thinking they know how to do it, when they actually don't."
It's important to note that the clinic is open to everyone, not just Indigenous people, though Ms Heap said the priority will always be Indigenous people.
"Our service is just as professional as anyone else's, and we're accredited with all the things you need to be accredited with," she said.
"It's no different to anywhere else, we're actually the Aboriginal organisation that provides it.
"It's a good thing for people to see, for non-Aboriginal people to come in and get a service and realise - well, they're no different to anyone else, we need the same medical treatment that everyone else does.
"We should have an equal service for our people."
Despite the shiny new building and dedicated team, BADAC is not immune to a common problem across regional Australia, and that's a struggle to attract and retain full-time doctors.
Ms Warren said one will begin in February, supporting four other locum doctors and the full complement of nurses and Aboriginal health workers.
"We are short of doctors," she said.
"The doctors will get all the help they want, because the nurses do a lot of the work-ups for GP management plans and health assessments, they're always there to support the doctors."
The clinic had advantages some others did not, including in-house pathology and specialists, including mental health and social workers, upstairs.
"It's a really holistic approach to health, it's all a one-stop-shop," she said.
"That's good for the clients, and it's good for the doctors, because they don't have to refer out a lot."
When Premier Daniel Andrews officially opened the centre last month, Ms Heap said in her speech she looked forward "to the day when we welcome our first Aboriginal doctor".
"That's something we'll have to think about for the future in terms of the organisation, how do we encourage our young people to become doctors," she said.
"Then supporting them - perhaps a scholarship, or doing something to support them to become nurses."
Ms Warren said education was the key - that's echoed by Gunditjmara man and integrated team care coordinator and chronic disease management nurse Anthony Harrison.
"When I started nursing, it was something I wasn't really sure about, so providing that base support, being there for guidance and feedback, not just about educational support but cultural support as an Aboriginal person going into medicine or any other field (is important)," he said.
"The opportunities we've got now, there's a lot more support now than we had 20 or 30 years ago, and moving forward, there's an opportunity there.
"The community has to get on board and provide that encouragement for young Indigenous people to get out there and get an education."
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