GROWing Excitement in Northern Queensland

21 September 2022

Grownq Blog

​On Friday, 9 September 2022, the GROW Rural bus left Cairns with 25 excited first year health students who maintained their enthusiasm for each other and the planned activities throughout the whole weekend.

Throughout the GROW Rural North Queensland (GROW NQ) program, students focused on ensuring remote, rural, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities have access to highly skilled health professionals when and where they need them, now and into the future. It is supported by Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) over the next three years.

Over the three days the students visited Atherton, Ravenshoe and Mareeba where they participated in:

  • Mulungu Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre welcoming us with fantastic cultural activities including traditional dance and an art workshop in which the students painted boomerangs and clapsticks.

  • Talking Circles in Ravenshoe and Atherton with local community residents and health professionals who shared their personal and professional journeys.

  • A relaxed evening of lawn bowls and dinner with local community members in Atherton.

  • Skill sessions based on the Gillies Bus Crash disaster scenario, rotated the students through the patient journey from first responder to ED, followed by Rehabilitation, Psychological Wellbeing and a specific suturing session (because students love to suture). We also had local high school and sixth year JCU students volunteer as casualties and look forward to connecting with them again next year. The skill session facilitators who so generously shared their time, knowledge, skills and passion made the sessions the highlight of the day.

  • Mareeba families billeted the GROW Rural students on the Saturday night which allowed the students to experience what it’s like to live rurally and to enjoy sharing a community meal at the Ant Hill Hotel.

The weekend concluded with a visit to Granite Gorge Nature Park where students enjoyed feeding the wallabies, walking amongst the granite boulders and cooling their feet in the weir before an unscheduled, but well-earned, visit to the local ice-cream parlour before heading back to the airport.

The program presented first-year medical, nursing, midwifery, dentistry, and allied health students with a unique experience to develop familiarity and a deeper understanding of the potential of a professional and personal life they could have working in rural Queensland.

HWQ Future Workforce Team Leader Meredith Connor said the students visited Atherton, Ravenshoe, and Mareeba. “Mulungu Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre welcomed the students with fantastic cultural activities including traditional dance and an art workshop in which the students painted boomerangs and clapsticks,” said Ms Connor.

HWQ CEO Chris Mitchell said HWQ was delighted to take the GROW Rural Program to North Queensland following the success of the program in Central Queensland and Southwest Queensland. “It was great to see such enthusiasm from our future remote and rural health workforce and we are so pleased that we are able to partner with NQPHN and work with the communities and key stakeholders in Northern Queensland to provide workforce solutions,” said Mr Mitchell.

NQPHN Chief Executive Officer Robin Whyte said the program involved students making commitments for three years with all travel, accommodation, and catering covered by HWQ. “We hope after qualifying, some, if not many, of the students will be encouraged to return to these rural communities and provide vital professional health services,” Ms Whyte said.

It was great to experience how engaged the communities became with GROW Rural over the course of the weekend and their eagerness to be part of next year’s event.