Ms Katie Pennington1

1Puntukurnu Aborignal Medical Service, Pilbara, Australia,

2Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia,

3Tasmanian Health Service, St Helens, Australia


Introduction:  Registered Nurses in very remote Australia, medicines and the law is a mixed methods research project utilising an explanatory sequential design that commenced in early 2018.  Early results from the project highlighted that a significant proportion of participants, RNs who had worked in very remote Australia within the previous two years, were likely the have worked outside the law with regards to medications.  Respondents from WA were more likely to have worked outside the law with regards to medications than any other state/territory.

What is happening in the Project:  Results from the project have been utilised alongside strategic lobbying by the WA Aboriginal Community Controlled Sector to successfully bring about legislative reform that better enables some aspects of remote nursing practice with regards to medications.  This presentation will discuss the approaches used to obtain the reform, the risks that still exist for nurses and patients in rural and remote areas nationally due to asynchronous medicines and poisons legislation and the ongoing work to #ChangeTheLaw

Conclusion: Collaboration and research-based evidence can be powerful drivers of both local and systemic change.  #ChangeTheLaw is an example of a grassroots, nursing driven quest for change in order to improve legal access to medications for remote populations and address the uncertainty and confusion remote area nurses face in aspects of their work with medications.


Katie is a Registered Nurse working with both the Tasmanian Health Service at St Helens District Hospital and in a Continuous Quality Improvement and Clinical Systems role with Puntukurnu Aboriginal Health Service in the Pilbara.

Her experience in rural, remote and isolated health spans 18 years.

Katie holds a Bachelor of Nursing from the University of Tasmania, a Graduate Diploma in Remote Health Practice and a Graduate Certificate in Child and Family Health Nursing from Flinders University. She is currently undertaking her Masters in Public Health (Research) through Edith Cowan University.