Primary Health Care work

Graphic: Primary Health Care work

Caring for children in remote communities

Date published

05 Jan 2024

Our Primary Health Care team are passionate about the health, wellbeing and development in children and are providing weekly Child Health Clinics in Gregory to help families in the Gregory and Bidunggu communities.

Lesley working

Little Shanaya looks at the bright slice of watermelon which has just been handed to her by RFDS Primary Health Care (PHC) Nurse Lesley Mallard; she turns and giggles at her friends.

Curiously she takes a small bite, looks up at Lesley and smiles.

This was the first time she had tried watermelon, a fruit that most children would not have access to in her community. 

Shanaya is among the many children from the Bidunggu community who visits our Child Health Clinic in Gregory.

Each week Lesley, or one of our other clinicians, meets with a group of young children and their families with fresh fruit donated from our Principal Partner, Woolworths as part of their Free Fruit for Kids Program.

While the children enjoy eating various fresh foods, Lesley conducts important child health checks, educates families about healthy nutrition and supports any health concerns.

“This is what primary health care is all about," Lesley said.

"We are trying to provide the right care and education to have a positive effect on children’s lives.

“These visits stop them from developing problems later on by treating skin infections, ensuring they have had immunisations and by providing education for good nutrition and healthy lifestyles.”

Families like those living in Bidunggu are hugely disadvantaged by distance. Children have to travel more than an hour each way to go to school or access a remote shop that sells basic supplies, and the nearest clinic is an hour drive away.

“We really are the only service for a lot of people in these locations, which is why we always try to provide a broad, holistic service,” Lesley said.

PHC

“If someone comes to see us we try to do as much as we can for them in their community – that means we offer screening, assessment, investigations, we bring their medications from a pharmacy, we collect their pathology, we provide help with appointments and travel, chronic disease care coordination, education, counselling and health planning.

“If we can streamline someone’s healthcare – we try to do it.

“Good chronic disease care and prevention means that people are less likely to need specialist appointments or emergency retrievals – that is good healthcare.

“It is such a privilege for us to be invited into these communities and we are lucky to have such a motivated PHC team who share a passion for remote area health and child health.”