Graphic: Jackie in the Cape
RFDS Senior Mental Health Clinician is changing lives in Far North Queensland by delivering our RFDS Mental Health and Wellbeing Services across Cape York communities.
When RFDS Senior Mental Health Clinician, Jackie, visits a community, she drives a big lap of the town to let everyone know she’s here with a listening ear.
Jackie, also known as the ‘RFDS Lady’, has been offering our RFDS Mental Health and Wellbeing Services across the Cape for more than four years visiting Bamaga, Weipa, Napranum, New Mapoon, Mapoon, Seisia, Injinoo and Umagico.
Bringing more than 25 years’ experience, Jackie has worked in mental health, child safety, aged care and the Queensland family law system assisting separated parents.
“I joined RFDS in 2019 because I really love working with Indigenous people, working in the community and seeing these beautiful parts of Australia,” Jackie said.
“People in the Cape are facing a variety of challenges with limited housing, employment opportunities, health services and public transport, so it’s rewarding to know I can be there to help them manage these stressors.
“They are also struggling with the cost of living - up here lettuce might cost $10, four tomatoes might cost $8, and fuel is $2.80 a litre.
“It’s all about helping people deal with everyday life and having that conversation to understand what they are going through and offer them some coping skills.”
Jackie is one of the many RFDS Mental Health Clinicians working in the Cape with our RFDS Recognised Mental Health Counsellor Joseph Oui based in Lockhart River.
This Mental Health Week, they will be offering a range of health promotion events, such as women’s groups, to help people with mental health such as anxiety, depression, and the impact of domestic and family violence.
“I might do home visits, pick up a client and take them down to the beach or just go for a drive together to get to know each other and build that trust,” Jackie said.
“Some clients have started calling me ‘Auntie Jackie’ which was a huge achievement because it means that they trust me.
“If people need more acute support, I can also refer them to services in Queensland Health and connect them to the care they need.”
RFDS delivers more than 11,800 consultations in Queensland each year conducted by headspace Cairns and RFDS mental health clinicians in areas as remote as Lockhart River all the way to Camooweal on the Northern Territory border.
“It’s important for us to offer these services because the RFDS is trusted in rural communities,” she said.
“Even though we do FIFO, people do develop that relationship with you.”
To find out more about RFDS Mental Health services, in Queensland, visit the RFDS website.
If you have specific mental health concerns, please contact RFDS mental health on (07) 4040 0444 (Far North QLD) or 1300 010 174 (Outback QLD). For crisis healthcare, contact 13 YARN on 13 92 76 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.