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Remote Area Nurses Recognised for Excellence

20 Sep 2021

Out­stand­ing Aus­tralian remote health pro­fes­sion­als are being cel­e­brat­ed this Sep­tem­ber with the announce­ment of the 2021 CRANAplus Award Winners.

CRANAplus, the peak body for remote and iso­lat­ed health, has been bestow­ing awards since 2001. This year’s awards recog­nised four indi­vid­u­als from South Aus­tralia, West­ern Aus­tralia, New South Wales and the North­ern Territory.

We con­grat­u­late all win­ners for their out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion to remote health,” CRANAplus CEO Kather­ine Isbis­ter said. The win­ners are excep­tion­al lead­ers in their field and have made sig­nif­i­cant impacts despite the chal­lenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The CRANAplus Awards pro­vide an oppor­tu­ni­ty to pro­mote and cel­e­brate the role of remote area nurs­es, mid­wives and health pro­fes­sion­als. By com­mend­ing achieve­ment, we aim to start impor­tant con­ver­sa­tions that inspire our col­leagues, whether they’re stu­dent nurs­es aspir­ing to work remote­ly or remote area nurs­es with many years of experience.”

The high­est pos­si­ble acco­lade with­in the remote and iso­lat­ed health pro­fes­sion, the Auro­ra Award, this year goes to Ter­rie Tess” Ivanhoe.

Described by her col­leagues as a con­stant inspi­ra­tion for nurs­ing and mid­wifery staff”, Ms Ivan­hoe has spent the last 11 of her 20 years in remote prac­tice work­ing as a Nurse Prac­ti­tion­er on the Chron­ic Dis­ease Pro­gram at Nganam­pa Health Coun­cil in the APY Lands in north-west South Australia.

Her role involves facil­i­tat­ing vis­it­ing spe­cial­ists and doc­tors to deliv­er chron­ic dis­ease ser­vices in a coor­di­nat­ed man­ner so that clients can access high-qual­i­ty care where they feel com­fort­able” and in a much time­li­er manner.”

Through­out the last 18 months, Ms Ivan­hoe has also co-led Nganampa’s COVID-19 Pan­dem­ic Response across their six large clinics.

To me my proud­est thing is to have pro­vid­ed first-rate care to the best of my abil­i­ty to Anan­gu peo­ple in a pro­fes­sion­al way,” Ms Ivan­hoe said. What the Anan­gu have taught me is to see things from the client’s side. We don’t do that enough in the main­stream. Remote area prac­tice teach­es you to seek to under­stand first.”

Any­thing that pro­motes remote area nurs­ing as a spe­cial­i­ty and as a pro­fes­sion is real­ly impor­tant. These awards bring the pro­fes­sion to the fore­front – not just in the remote area set­ting, but the whole of Aus­tralia. If one oth­er nurse decides they want to be a remote area nurse because of our sto­ries, then I think that’s real­ly important.”

The win­ner of the 2021 Excel­lence in Remote and Iso­lat­ed Health Prac­tice Award, spon­sored by James Cook Uni­ver­si­ty / Mur­tupi­ni Cen­tre for Rur­al & Remote Health, is Helen Parker.

Through­out her 15 years in remote area nurs­ing, Remote Area Nurse and Nurse Prac­ti­tion­er Ms Park­er has worked in Sau­di Ara­bia, Kenya, and remote North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry, from Cen­tral Aus­tralia to the Top End. She present­ly works as a Child Health Nurse with the Mala’la Health Ser­vice in Man­ingri­da, NT.

Ms Park­er said that upon find­ing out she had won, I was over­whelmed, I start­ed cry­ing… I felt real­ly hon­oured and proud of myself.”

To get some prop­er head­way or improve­ments in health, it’s a lot more besides antibi­otics and putting a band-aid on,” Ms Park­er says. It’s about tak­ing on the fam­i­ly, the cul­ture, the lan­guages, the way you speak… to be able to give that holis­tic care.”

The win­ner of the 2021 Excel­lence in Edu­ca­tion and/​or Research Award, spon­sored by Flinders Uni­ver­si­ty – Rur­al and Remote Health (CRH), is Dr Kylie McCullough.

Inspired by her ear­li­er expe­ri­ences as a remote area nurse in Kakadu, Dr McCul­lough is now a lec­tur­er based at Edith Cow­an Uni­ver­si­ty in Perth. She has pub­lished 7 aca­d­e­m­ic arti­cles and count­ing on remote health, and in 2018 com­plet­ed her PhD the­sis which estab­lished a frame­work of remote area nurs­ing practice.

Com­mu­ni­ties, employ­ers, oth­er nurs­es and Aus­tralians at large real­ly need to under­stand, val­ue and recog­nise the con­tri­bu­tion nurs­es are mak­ing to the health and well­be­ing of com­mu­ni­ties, and the advanced prac­tice nature of what they’re doing,” Dr McCul­lough said.

If we knew that, we would sup­port peo­ple more and pro­vide bet­ter incen­tives for going out bush. Our com­mu­ni­ties would val­ue nurs­es a bit more – and that’d make a dif­fer­ence to remote health.”

The win­ner of the 2021 Col­lab­o­ra­tive Team Award, spon­sored by Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC), is the Mid­wifery Unit of the Coomeal­la Health Abo­rig­i­nal Corporation.

Team mem­bers include Dr Main­ul Khan, Dr Nalin Fon­se­ka, Zoe Andrews (Health Pro­mo­tions Offi­cer), Wendy Arney (Dietit­ian), Kiah Howard (Recep­tion­ist), Deb­bie Towns (Mid­wife), Robert Ritchie (Clin­ic Team Leader), Tim­my Gor­don (Abo­rig­i­nal Men­tal Health Peer Sup­port Work­er), Guy Mitchell (Trans­port Offi­cer), Jus­tine Williams (Health Ser­vices Man­ag­er), and Michelle Ter­rick (Prac­tice Nurse).

The Abo­rig­i­nal-led mid­wifery unit in the Far West region of NSW has approx­i­mate­ly 2000 clients on its books and recent­ly tran­si­tioned to a dig­i­tal ante­na­tal record fol­low­ing com­mu­ni­ty consultation.

Ideas need to start from the grass­roots, rather than com­ing from the top-down,” Mid­wife Deb­bie Towns said. We have a lit­tle card, or a wal­let, that sticks to your mobile phone or sim­i­lar, then your lit­tle USB card will go into there, so all of your preg­nan­cy, you can car­ry it with your phone.”

Ms Towns iden­ti­fies the reduced risk of tran­scrip­tion errors and mis­place­ment of records at home, increased fam­i­ly bond­ing, enhanced pri­va­cy, eas­i­er shar­ing of records and results between organ­i­sa­tions, the abil­i­ty to sani­tise the card, and the involve­ment of many indi­vid­u­als (includ­ing a local artist) as key benefits.

More about CRANAplus, the peak pro­fes­sion­al body for remote health

Found­ed in 1983, CRANAplus is a grass­roots, not-for-prof­it, mem­ber­ship organ­i­sa­tion with offices in Cairns, Ade­laide, Can­ber­ra and Alice Springs, which ensures the deliv­ery of safe, high-qual­i­ty pri­ma­ry health­care to remote and iso­lat­ed areas of Australia.

CRANAplus deliv­ers edu­ca­tion­al cours­es con­tex­tu­alised to the remote and iso­lat­ed set­ting to upskill the remote health work­force. Its Bush Sup­port Line pro­vides free, con­fi­den­tial, 24-hour coun­selling to the rur­al and remote health work­force and their families.

It serves its mem­ber­ship by rep­re­sent­ing the work­force and advo­cat­ing for change with­in the remote health sec­tor, pro­vid­ing schol­ar­ship and grant oppor­tu­ni­ties, facil­i­tat­ing remote health employ­ment, and pro­vid­ing career sup­port and advice.

Media enquiries
Denise Wilt­shire
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