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Scholarship in memory of Gayle Woodford is making a difference in rural & remote communities

17 Mar 2021

March 23, 2021, marks five years since the trag­ic death of much-loved Remote Area Nurse (RAN) Gayle Woodford. 

It is also the fifth anniver­sary of a schol­ar­ship set up in Mrs Woodford’s mem­o­ry, which aims to improve the knowl­edge, skills, safe­ty and secu­ri­ty of Australia’s remote health workers.

Appli­ca­tions are now open for the sixth Gayle Wood­ford Memo­r­i­al Schol­ar­ship, which cov­ers all course fees for a Grad­u­ate Cer­tifi­cate in Remote Health Prac­tice, offered through Flinders University.

The schol­ar­ship, joint­ly estab­lished by not-for-prof­it organ­i­sa­tion CRANAplus, which pro­vides edu­ca­tion, sup­port and pro­fes­sion­al ser­vices for the remote health work­force, and the Flinders Uni­ver­si­ty Cen­tre for Remote Health, gives one recip­i­ent every year a strong under­stand­ing of the unique cul­tur­al, lin­guis­tic, social, eco­nom­ic and geo­graph­ic con­di­tions of work­ing in remote environments.

Gayle was a Remote Area Nurse who was incred­i­bly well respect­ed with­in the indus­try,” says CRANAplus CEO Kather­ine Isbis­ter. Her trag­ic death res­onat­ed with many RANs who had expe­ri­enced issues with safe­ty and secu­ri­ty. It was a call to action that much more need­ed to be done around safe­ty and secu­ri­ty with­in the remote and iso­lat­ed health workforce.”

In con­junc­tion with launch­ing the schol­ar­ship in mem­o­ry of Mrs Wood­ford, who was mur­dered in a remote South Aus­tralian com­mu­ni­ty, CRANAplus set in motion a wide-rang­ing safe­ty and secu­ri­ty study to iden­ti­fy issues relat­ed to the health and safe­ty of remote health work­ers and pri­ori­tise solutions. 

Fund­ed by the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment, the Remote Area Work­force Safe­ty and Secu­ri­ty Project brought togeth­er a high-lev­el advi­so­ry group and result­ed in the deliv­ery of a suite of resources, includ­ing nation­al safe­ty guide­lines for remote health and train­ing materials.

Being a health work­er in remote and rur­al areas can be an incred­i­bly reward­ing career, with the oppor­tu­ni­ty to make a huge con­tri­bu­tion to com­mu­ni­ties who are in des­per­ate need of good health care,” Ms Isbis­ter said.

As with any job, though, there can be chal­lenges. Work­ing in remote areas can be hard to get used to, par­tic­u­lar­ly the sense of iso­la­tion, but CRANAplus strives to ensure that any­body who choos­es remote health work is as pre­pared as they can be. The schol­ar­ship was the per­fect oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­tribute to these out­comes, and to cel­e­brate the mem­o­ry of Gayle, who con­tributed so much to remote communities.”

Inau­gur­al schol­ar­ship win­ner Ves­na Bal­a­ban now works as a Reg­is­tered Nurse for the Cen­tral Aus­tralian Abo­rig­i­nal Con­gress in Arey­on­ga, about 220km west of Alice Springs. 

It is a love­ly com­mu­ni­ty of about 200 peo­ple sur­round­ed by the beau­ti­ful land­scape of the West Mac­Don­nell Ranges. You get to know every­one – the fam­i­lies, the elders who make deci­sions,” says Ves­na, who adds that the schol­ar­ship was invalu­able in enabling her to pur­sue her cho­sen career.

The course deep­ened my knowl­edge and skills, and it is more than just the prac­ti­cal knowl­edge. Health work­ers in remote areas come from a wide range of cul­tures and dif­fer­ent back­grounds. The course makes you think real­ly hard about your­self and your own cul­ture. It’s how you stand, how you speak to a per­son – it makes you very aware.”

Appli­ca­tions for this year’s Gayle Wood­ford Memo­r­i­al Schol­ar­ship close on July 31, 2021. The schol­ar­ship is open to reg­is­tered nurs­es and mid­wives, Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Islander health prac­ti­tion­ers, allied health prac­ti­tion­ers and med­ical offi­cers who meet cer­tain entry requirements. 

For full details and to apply, vis­it: www​.crana​.org​.au/​w​o​r​k​f​o​r​c​e​-​s​u​p​p​o​r​t​/​o​t​h​e​r​-​s​u​p​p​o​r​t​/​s​c​h​o​l​a​r​ships

Media inquiries
Con­tact: Denise Wilt­shire
Ph: 0419 359 325
E: denise@​crana.​org.​au