A new Perth-based charity providing voluntary medical services to Africa will be launched next week with the support of local mining and exploration companies engaged in the continent.

Australian Doctors for Africa will aim to provide medical aid and training programs throughout African countries.

ADFA founder and orthopaedic surgeon Graham Forward said the organisation had plans to grow to 200 members initially.

WA mining companies with a presence in Africa are being encouraged to attend the official launch of ADFA, he said, as it was in their interests both from a social responsibility perspective as well as a business point of view.

“Many are looking for a way to develop relationships with the communities in which they intent to explore and mine,” Mr Forward said.

Already, ADFA has recruited the WA arms of Kumba Resources and Ticor, both of which are involved in Africa.

“At a simple level, I think they [miners] have a responsibility to return something after taking from the earth,” Mr Forward said.

While obviously important for maintaining a good image, he said, it also was in the companies’ interests to improve the health of their Indigenous workforce as well as expatriate staff, who face poor medical facilities in many African nations.

Despite being in its infancy, the organisation has already accomp-lished two orthopaedic and nursing visits to Somalia and two orthopaedic visits to Ethiopia. These were concerned with surgical operat-ing and training, according to Mr Forward.

Of great importance, he said, was the need to train overseas doctors in their home countries instead of training them away from their homeland, since they were more likely to stay.

The issue of Australia poaching and training overseas doctors from around the world – including from many African nations – has featured in recent reports, with claims that an overseas medical workforce is currently servicing regional areas where local doctors refuse to work.

Mr Forward said he thought the practice of recruiting qualified overseas doctors, who are more needed in their home countries, should be ceased.

He said plans for future visits included training for African medical staff in the fields of nursing, obstetrics training, orthopaedics as well as education in basic hygiene.

A combined gastroenterology and orthopaedic visit to Madagascar is planned to depart on November 20.

ADFA will hold its launch in West Perth on Wednesday November 16 from 6pm. Local mining companies and others interested in attending can call 9321 5480 for more information.

Kulcha plays its part in Bangladeshi project

MULTICULTURAL arts centre Kulcha has teamed up with AusAID, the Population Services and Training Centre, a Bangladeshi non-government organisation, the Office of Multicultural Interests and the City of Fremantle to bring a project aimed at giving Bangladeshi street children a sense of self-worth.

Named the ‘Visible Photo Project’, it will help disadvantaged children in the country express their life stories through photography.

According to organisers, the Visible project seeks to develop a sense of self-worth among street children and offers a rare opportunity for self expression, creativity and self development.

It will launch an exhibition at Kulcha on Sunday November 20, showcasing photographs taken by six street children who live in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and featuring their way of life in one of the poorest areas in the country.

The exhibition runs from November 21 to December 2 at Kulcha, based in Fremantle on South Terrace. Entry is free on weekdays from 10am to 4pm.

Kulcha Multicultural Arts of Western Australia was established in 1983 as the Ethnic Music Centre and today considers itself the state’s peak presenter of multicultural arts.