Heartbreaking choice between retirement and vital medical charity

Heartbreaking choice between retirement and vital medical charity

17 May 2024

Robyn and Graham Girdler have made it their life’s mission to provide a lifeline of support to those facing hardship – but all of this could soon come to an end.

Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) Leader and Member for Traeger Robbie Katter said he regularly heard heartwarming stories about their selfless acts of care and support to patients who need to travel to Townsville for medical services from the Gulf.

“It was a pleasure to recently secure long fought for funding to enable to continue the services at Alabaster House,” Mr Katter said.

After 12 years of tireless service, Mr and Mrs Girdler are looking forward to well-deserved retirement but until sustainable and ongoing funding is secured, they are being forced to choose between delaying their future or watching the services at Alabaster House end.

“Unlike in Brisbane where it seems like there is a hospital around every corner, to obtain specialist hospital care, we in the North West of the State often need to travel more than 1000km to Townsville,” Mr Katter said.

“I hear all too often about people being forced to upend their lives, or worse still, choose to give up their treatment altogether to stay at home rather than be admitted in a hospital ward for days on end away from their support system.

“The services provided by Alabaster House is in fact a saving to the Queensland Government enabling them to treat these people as out-patients,” the Member for Traeger said.

Mrs Girdler observed that there are very few accommodation options in Townsville that provide the level of service that Alabaster House does.

“We provide fully self-contained accommodation in a safe and secure environment, as well as assisting with  transport, getting them to their medical appointments, collecting medication and food parcels,” she said.

Mr Katter said Alabaster House has twenty-nine bedrooms distributed across six houses and accommodate, on average, forty people every night.

“If this service didn’t exist, you would be into the tens of millions of dollars for a government institutional-type facility to provide the same,” he said.


“For years now Queensland Health has been all too happy to benefit from the Girdler’s thankless work.

“With their well-deserved retirement coming up it is about time Queensland Health stump up to provide ongoing funds to keep services ongoing at Alabaster House under a new operator.

“I continue to seek a commitment from the government to sustain funding for this essential medical service,” Mr Katter said.


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