The GROW Rural NQ Journey Doesn't End Here!

15 May 2024

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At the end of March, the inaugural cohort of university multidisciplinary health students that formed Health Workforce Queensland's (HWQ) very first GROW Rural North Queensland (NQ) program in 2022, completed their third event together visiting the Tablelands region.

It was a bright and early start to our adventure, meeting at Cairns Airport to regroup and catch up on happenings over the previous 12 months since we all saw each other last. No time to dilly-dally though, as soon as our bus arrived, we were off to Mulungu Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre in Mareeba to learn some traditional weaving from a local Torres Strait Islander family. The Kaizi’s Traditional Coconut Oil family bought some of their products along and shared the benefits of coconut oil in our cooking and for our skin and health. They shared stories about harvesting local coconuts and the essential oils used in their products for natural healing purposes. They also shared weaving techniques and we all created a lightning bolt out of coconut palm fronds. Some of the students felt so confident with their newfound skills they wanted to weave themselves a hat for the Hat’s Off dinner the following night, however it was time to depart as we had a special ceremony to attend.

We spent the afternoon on the grounds of Mareeba Hospital for a special tree planting ceremony in appreciation of the Mareeba community and their health professionals for their ongoing commitment to growing the Tablelands future workforce alongside GROW Rural. Local health professionals and community attended, including Mayor Angela Toppin and Dr Brian Treanor who acknowledge the importance of GROW Rural as a workforce solution program. The students then reconnected with their billet families and spent the afternoon together before joining Health Workforce Queensland for a community dinner.

Students and billet families gathered at the Mareeba Leagues Club where we enjoyed an evening of Comedy Tours, courtesy of Mavis and her bowling companions who entertained us with their quirky sense of humour! 

On day two we travelled to Atherton to participate in the scenario-based skills sessions titled “When Larry, Yasi and Jasper came to Town!” The morning started with a talking circle with speakers from local community, health professionals, and local government who ‘set the scene’ for the students by discussing the challenges and positive elements of community working together in times of adversity. Also invited were local high school students with an interest in health care, some of whom were part of previous GROW Rural NQ skills sessions. 

A highlight of the day was a former GROW Rural Central Queensland student, Laura Rutherford, now practicing as a physiotherapist in Cairns, facilitating her own skills session. Judging by the feedback at the end of the day, Laura’s session was a huge success. Other well-received sessions included zoonotic diseases to demonstrate how diseases transmit between humans and animals,and hearing from a local resident diagnosed with Q Fever to illustrate the importance of thorough diagnostic investigation.

The day ended with the "Hats off to GROW Rural dinner," where guests were invited to wear their best or worst hats to celebrate GROW Rural. With over 70 guests, including local health professionals, local government representatives, and community members, we celebrated the student journey over the past three years and acknowledged the importance of everyone in the room in making GROW Rural a workforce solution.

Sunday took us to Boonooloo Psychology and Cairns Equine Therapy where we explored the potential of healing through equine therapy with psychologist Anneke Bayer. Anneke took us through a series of interactive activities that allowed us to connect as a group and better understand the power of vulnerability. 

We then enjoyed some free time in Kuranda to browse the markets before setting off on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway back to Cairns. A highlight was stopping at the spectacular Barron Falls which was an ideal opportunity to take memorable photographs which included an impressive rainbow. 

HWQ will continue to be part of the GROW Rural NQ student’s health career journey and assist them with university placements, bursaries and employment as early career graduates. With one student already having completed her placement and another six arranged for this year, it is a positive outlook for growing the Tablelands future health workforce.

A special thank you goes to our event partner Northern Queensland PHN, and to all the local health care professionals, organisations, Local Government, and communities who have all made this possible. Your commitment to being part of a workforce solution and improving health outcomes is inspiring. 

For more information on GROW Rural go to our website via the button below.

GROW Rural

To view the full photo album for this event click below.

Photo Album