Do you know a remote health professional or team that deserves to be recognised?
Nominate them for a CRANAplus Remote Health Award today.

Having a whale of a time in the Great South West

4 Jul 2017

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.