GROW Rural CQ: Student Spirits High Despite Early Cancellation Due to COVID Lockdown

20 September 2021

2021 Page4 Grow Rural Cq 2021 0203 Blog

The enthusiasm of first year health students to be part of the GROW Rural program was evident from the 100+ applications Health Workforce Queensland received for the Central Queensland 2021-2023 cohort. 

The 30 successful health students and Health Workforce Queensland staff commenced their first GROW Rural event together at the end of July as they travelled by coach from Rockhampton to Woorabinda. Woorabinda was, for many students, their first introduction to an Indigenous community which included a cultural awareness session delivered by Elders, bush stories and an introduction to traditional medicine. Myella Farm Stay, located just outside of Baralaba, was the next stop where everyone was warmly welcomed by the Eather family and introduced to their extended family of residential and fostered pets. After an informal dinner under the stars with local health professionals, the students awoke to a spectacular sunrise shrouded in mist. A country breakfast was followed by whip-cracking and lassoing lessons with plenty of sore hands, before travelling to Theodore where the students took part in a smoking ceremony beside the Dawson River, and had the privilege of listening to the life story of local Indigenous artist Wayne Martin.

Disappointingly, it was at this point, GROW Rural received word Brisbane was about to go into lockdown. The difficult decision, to cancel the remainder of the program, was made and transport arrangements put in place for everyone to travel back to their respective destinations.

The seven hour trip back to Brisbane by coach provided plenty of time to reflect on the friendships formed, the fantastic experiences had and how there is strength through adversity. This was beautifully illustrated by the capacity of the students to support one another in their disappointment and by generously assisting those students with additional transport needs. Although the first GROW Rural Central Queensland 2021-2023 event had only just begun, the spirit of GROW had undoubtedly woven itself into the participants memories and was aptly captured by one student who wrote:

"The GROW rural program has been such an amazing experience for me! I didn't really know what to expect at first, but it was fair to say, I had one of the best times of my life after meeting the lovely organisers, other health students and engaging in the cultural activities. You get a beautiful insight into the realities of rural practice, make strong friendships and most of all, can develop a passion for health and people in a whole new way. This is an experience I would recommend ANY health student and I can't wait to do it again next year."