AMRRIC (Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities) has won a Special Award in one of the largest and most prestigious veterinary awards in the world, the International Canine Health Awards (ICHA).
AMRRIC is the first organisation ever to win an ICHA award and was given the accolade in recognition of their extraordinary work in creating culturally safe veterinary and education programmes in remote Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Their work has been shown to be essential in assisting and empowering these often-remote communities to meet their needs for companion animal health, care, and safety.
“This is the first year that a Special Award has been given but we were profoundly impressed by the work and the mission of AMRRIC and the excellent work of their veterinary and education teams, enhanced through volunteers, who provide this vital service. I am delighted that AMRRIC are the very deserving recipients of this exceptional prize for an exceptional organisation,” Andrew Higgins, Chairman of the International Canine Health Awards panel and trustee of The Kennel Club Charitable Trust, which runs the awards, said.
Dogs serve important roles in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. They are valued companions, revered hunting aids, and play important cultural and spiritual roles in Indigenous communities. Remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are often hundreds of kilometres from the nearest veterinary clinic and can only be accessed via unsealed roads, expensive charter flights or infrequent barges. The annual wet season results in road closures which can cut these communities off for months at a time.
AMRRIC was founded in 1998 and its unique approach has been based on a deep respect for the cultures and values of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It utilises a ‘One Health One Wellbeing’ model of service delivery, developed over years of dialogue and engagement with Indigenous communities, that recognises dogs as being intrinsic to the fabric of each community, and acknowledges the inseparable links between the health and wellbeing of companion animals and that of their owners and their communities.
The awards, which are organised by The Kennel Club Charitable Trust (UK) and underwritten by a major gift from Vernon and Shirley Hill, founders of Metro Bank, highlight those individuals who go one step further to promote the health and wellbeing of dogs through their work in the world of veterinary science. The winners are chosen by an independent international panel of eminent veterinarians and scientists.
“We are truly thrilled to be the first recipients of a Special International Canine Health Award,” Bonny Cumming, Program Manager and Acting CEO at AMRRIC said. “To be honoured with this award is absolutely humbling. It’s also wonderful validation of the value and impact of AMRRIC’s work to address health inequities, by working collaboratively to improving the health and wellbeing of companion animals in remote Australian Indigenous communities.
“The international recognition that this award brings will help to shine a spotlight on the continuing disadvantage faced by many remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities when it comes to accessing animal health services. It also assists to cement AMRRIC’s reputation as a leader in the delivery of collaborative, culturally appropriate, One Health One Wellbeing-focused services that aim to ensure communities are healthy and safe for people and their companion animals.”
Alongside this award, Bonny credited the organisation’s ongoing positive relationships with remote communities as their proudest achievement “We’d like to share this recognition with the many wonderful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and partners with whom we collaborate,” she said. “We simply could not deliver our work without our many and varied collaborators.”
For more on the International Canine Health Awards visit thekennelclub.org.uk/icha.