A day in the life of the Outback Mental Health Team

Date published

11 Oct 2019

Wellbeing Out West (WOW) is a mental health service established by the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) in 2018, to provide free of charge mental health education, one-to-one counselling and support to people living and working in remote and rural parts of Queensland.

So what does a typical day look like for the Wellbeing Out West team? Timna Wright is the WOW Coordinator and this is what one of her very busy days looks like.

Graphic: A view from the plane on the way to the field day


Judith (Cairns Base) and I had been trying to plan a trip together for so long, to give me some insight into field days and utilising ideas for WOW. On Wednesday Judith confirmed that indeed they could fit me on, which was doubly exciting as the property they were going to was Wattle Hills where I have family!  What a bonus!

4.30am –  I woke up (that sounds a little springier than I felt)

5.20am – I left my family’s home at Yungaburra, where I was staying for the week, and headed down the Gillies to Cairns to get to the base by 0700.

On the veranda of Wattle Hills

6.55am – Arriving at the base, I had plenty of time to meet the rest of the team before Judith and I packed the aircraft with the equipment for the day (giving the PHC nurse a break). Shortly afterwards we strapped in for take-off, destination Wattle Hills.

9am – We landed at the South side airstrip where we were greeted by the property owners. We unpacked the aircraft, packed the cars and set off on the hour-long journey from the airstrip to the host residence. The 4WD tour of the property became a highlight of the day. 

10am – On arrival at the Field Day location, we unpacked the vehicles. The doctor and nurse set up in preparation for a clinic while Judith, Taeha and myself prepared our spot on the verandah to deliver CPR training and provide the latest info on the new portable AED.

Graphic: The seafood spread at Wattle Hills

10.30am – No-one would let us start the day on an empty stomach so we feasted on coffee, freshly baked sausage rolls and pinwheels and some good old-fashioned ‘chewing the fat’.

11am – With full bellies we commenced CPR training. We went through instructions on how to use the new AED and helped to build people’s confidence with some hands-on CPR on the mannequin.

12.30pm – We broke for lunch; a beautiful seafood spread that would put George’s Paragon to shame (pictured) with locally caught prawns, fresh barra and a crisp homegrown salad.

1.30pm – The clinic continued and I used the time to have some individual chats with some of the locals while we washed up. I was also given a tour of the garden.  Both proved to be great opportunities to discuss concerns and well-being in the community.

Leaving Wattle Hills

2pm – We re- packed the vehicles, and again traversed the rough (but exciting!) terrain to the airstrip.

3pm – Unpacked the cars, re-packed the aircraft, thanked our hosts, took the necessary photos, and readied for take-off. The trip back gave me the chance to follow up on some emails and considered how I would use the knowledge that I had gained that day in Outback Mental Health’s future health screening events.

5pm –Landed back in Cairns and unpacked the plane. To my delight, the night shift flight nurse was there to greet us. She happened to be an old friend from my days in Mt Isa so we had a chance to catch up.

5.30pm – I headed to my brother’s place in Woree to pick him and my niece up. We then met up with my daughter and her boyfriend for dinner at Dunwoody’s