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Date posted: 14 March 2012
The achievements of a respected environmental health practitioner and champion of healthy housing have been remembered in a recent blog post by Healthhabitat, the organisation behind the long-running Housing for health projects.
In their blog post, Healthhabitat reflect on the important work of Mr Kirke Forbes (Kumanara*), and remember the things that he achieved for his community, region and Indigenous people nationally.
Mr Forbes worked on the original Housing for health project in Pipalyatjara and never stopped working on the same principles as a UPK environmental health officer for the APY Lands, in the north-west of South Australia.
He was on the team of the first Queensland Housing for health pilot project, in Pormpuraaw Cape York, and became a celebrity in the eyes of the locals with his extensive housing knowledge.
He was a key member of the Nganampa Health Council and University of Wollongong research and development team improving the function of wastewater systems in central Australia. At the presentation of the final wastewater report to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Wollongong he noted in his brief address to the assembled academics and professionals that 'the families involved in this work knew that the work would ultimately lead to better health for their kids and were happy to help, they also hope the work can lead to the better health of kids around Australia'. The work went on to change state and national wastewater codes and to improve wastewater treatment.
He worked on a trachoma reduction project with local school kids, the doctor of flies, the doctor of dust and a team of eye doctors.
He was invited, by the then Housing Minister Jocelyn Newman, to the launch of the first edition of the National Indigenous housing guide in Canberra. He, more than most, understood the importance of the work that underpinned the principles of the Guide. He had lived the work.
Healthhabitat write that Mr Forbes is remembered as a quiet, considered and gentle man with a great sense of humour. He was a mentor and friend to many. His work was important and improved the living conditions of his local community, the region he knew so well and Indigenous people nationally.
* In their article, Healthhabitat note that Anangu people in the region prefer the name of a recently deceased person not be used for a period of time, and that the word 'Kumanara' is substituted.