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Having a whale of a time in the Great South West
CEO of Heywood Rural Health, Jackie Kelly swaps big city living for life on the beach.
From South Yarra, Melbourne, to 30 hectares by the sea with two horses, three dogs, two cats, three calves, five lambs, chickens, and one donkey later, here I am. Narrawong: population 176, right on the rugged coast of South West Victoria.
From fighting the traffic on Hoddle Street to watching wedge tail eagles fly, dodging wallabies and koalas. Sipping lattes and shopping on a Saturday morning, to gumboots and mud, being zapped by electric fences, running after pigs and living with snakes and other creepy crawlies. Now I ride my horse, riding along the beach, watching Southern Right Whales swim with their calves, right there on the shoreline. I wouldn’t change a thing.
In my previous role I worked as a senior executive in a large health organisation for 11 years and it was during this time that I realised the importance of Community Health, health prevention, and health promotion from a person centred approach to care delivery. I also realised the importance of values in action that every interaction we have on a daily basis with the people we support needs to be about caring, respect responsiveness and integrity. When the opportunity arose to work at Heywood Rural Health, I jumped in – gumboots first.
Small Rural Health Services are unique. They are a little bit of everything to everybody, all the time. Everything we do and try to achieve takes time. We look at the lists of things we have to achieve and wonder how? But when I look at what we have completed and achieved over the last two years, it really has been extraordinary.
There are never enough of us to get everything done on time and we have to wear so many different hats on a daily basis. But this is also what makes Small Rural Health Services great. We are a community, a part of the community and we work for our Community, and with the people who live in this community.
As the biggest employer for the area we are proud to be able to support staff, and students to realise their ambitions and also to support people to transition to other professions.
City shopping, sipping lattes, funky cafes, theatre shows: they are all nice. For a visit. I wouldn’t change a thing.