Empowering Rural Healthcare: Reflecting on the GROW Rural Central Queensland 2021-2023 Journey

11 August 2023

Grow Cq Blog Image Final 01

​Our GROW Rural Central Queensland 2021-2023 cohort have successfully concluded their third and final annual weekend on the program. During this enriching and memorable event, we revisited our friends in Woorabinda on Wadjigu Country, Moura on Gangulu Country and Theodore on Wulli Wulli Country.

Our first venture was a fun activity with year 3 students from a small outback primary school. This highly successful activity was solely planned and delivered by the GROW Rural students. Armed with teddy bears (kindly knitted and donated by Australian Red Cross volunteers) and interactive materials, our students ran various health stations to deliver health checks on each year 3s newly acquired teddy friend. Both big and little students had much fun talking about health, from eyes, ears and teeth to hearts, skin and nutrition. Thank you to all the children, teaching staff and Community Elders for your enthusiasm and for welcoming us warmly to your school.

Travelling on to Myella Farm Stay, our accommodation for the evening, our hosts, Lyn, Carl and Olive towed us on an open-air trailer through their property to visit to their cattle, providing informative commentary on best-practice land use along the way. The wide-open countryside treated us to breathtaking views, a spectacular sunset and many inquisitive cows. After working up an appetite, we headed off to dinner at nearby Baralaba Hotel. Here we celebrated two birthdays with cake and a delicious meal.

Following breakfast the next morning, Johanna Joyce, one of our UQ medical students, shared her placement experience with the other members of the cohort. Earlier this year Johanna completed a 6-week placement at Woorabinda Multipurpose Health Service. This placement choice was inspired by her previous visits to Woorabinda through the GROW Rural program. Johanna detailed her daily activities, her living arrangements, community involvement, and the extensive exposure she gained on a diverse range of cases. If you’d like to read more about Johanna’s placement experience, see the article linked below.

GROW Rural Student Returns to Woorabinda for Placement

After a sad, final farewell to our Myella hosts, we headed off to explore Dawson Mine in Moura, hosted by Anglo American. A tour organised by the mine gave us the exciting opportunity to drive huge machines and transport steelmaking coal around site – albeit from the safety of a simulator! In the workshop, we climbed the ladder for a view from the top of one of their massive (to say the least) trucks. We were certainly in awe of their size and abilities. We also visited the operations room and the clinic where Nurse Rhonda kindly shared the day-to-day of her role as an on-site nurse in the mining industry.

The mine also served as a backdrop to the clinical skill sessions held at Moura State High School that afternoon. These insightful allied health sessions were generously facilitated by local health professionals including a Social Worker, Physiotherapist, Speech Pathologist and Occupational Therapist. Also joining us for these sessions were some local high school students who are considering a future career in health. Through open conversations and activities, these sessions not only broadened the students' understanding of various health disciplines beyond their own but also highlighted the significance of multidisciplinary healthcare in rural settings.

After enjoying some afternoon tea with the facilitators, the local billet families arrived to meet and greet their allocated students. Together they spent the afternoon exploring the town and the family properties. Each year, the students' feedback consistently reveals how much they love this part of GROW Rural.

Saturday evening called for a special graduation dinner at Moura Bowls Club, with a side of karaoke. There were a few surprise stars among the students and also among the community! To mark the occasion, as the final GROW Rural event for this cohort, the students received a framed piece of artwork by local Indigenous artist, Wayne Martin.

After a morning spent with the billet families, we said our goodbyes and headed out to Wulli Wulli Country. Here we were privileged to be shown recently discovered Indigenous cave paintings. Beautiful Flagstaff Hill Lookout was where we were introduced to the practice of ochre crushing, a technique used by First Nations peoples to create the cave painting handprints.

To wrap up the afternoon and the event, a talking circle, was led by Dr Bruce Chater, with participation from other local health experts. This session provided an opportunity for the students to reflect on their three years in the program and contemplate potential pathways into rural healthcare. Afterwards, we said our goodbyes and travelled back to Rockhampton Airport for our flights home.

Thank you to our GROW Rural students for your participation and enthusiasm for rural practice. We hope you have taken away some wonderful experiences and knowledge from our three years together, and that you return one day to be part of a rural community. A big thank you to the individuals, businesses and communities who came together to make this event possible. Thank you also for your commitment to rural health care and for sharing your communities with GROW Rural.