Curing loneliness, it’s a major health concern

Mrs Jannine Jackson1

1Frontier Services, PARRAMATTA, Australia


Frontier Services is experiencing the impact of health and social issues that are becoming more prevalent in remote Australia.  These social issues are often triggered by numerous stressors but they are made more complex by social isolation and loneliness. Loneliness is a real health issue with 1 in 4 Australian’s feeling lonely, 30% don’t feel like they are part of a group of friends and loneliness increases the likelihood of experiencing depression by 15% and leads to poorer overall quality of life and physical health.

Human beings by our nature are built for social connection and subconsciously are always seeking real, genuine and authentic relationships. Overlay that with the social isolation that people feel in remote Australia making face to face connection a greater challenge. Key health indicators for men in remote Australia are evidence of poorer mental health and social outcomes with men on average living seven years less and twice as likely to commit suicide than their city counterparts.

We know that social isolation leads to poorer mental and physical health outcomes.  This is also evidenced by higher rates of substance abuse, domestic violence, and family breakdowns.

Frontier Services has always believed in being the friendly ear that turns up at the farm gate and in the true value of mateship.

For 100 years we have been supplying Bush Chaplaincy in order to provide the community hub, the social connectivity, and the pastoral care. A bush chaplain never knows what to expect when they are visiting remote properties often their work is life-saving. It is more than being connected, it’s face to face contact an important key factor in reducing social isolation. It’s about providing real and practical solutions for people who may not have yet identified that they are in crisis.


Jannine Jackson, CFRE, FFIA, Grad Dip Mgt is a senior leader in the nonprofit sector with over 20 years working for diverse organisations spanning human services in health, social, disability, and advocacy.  Working for organisations like Australian Red Cross, NSW, Mission Australia, Arthritis & Osteoporosis NSW During her career she has advocated for political and policy change in health, and fundraising legislation.  She has led organisations through large change management strategies and significant growth in complex environments. She currently works as the National Director for Frontier Services supporting those living and working in remote Australia.

RuralHealthTogether – rural health workforce digital self-care and wellbeing initiative

Laura Hardaker1

Workforce Engagement Manager, Rural Doctors Network (RDN)


In 2018 NSW faced an ongoing, significant drought. Evidence suggested stretched rural healthcare practitioners faced increased mental health patient presentations, an increase in their own mental health stress and a decline in their own sense of wellbeing.

RDN observed the impact on wellbeing of rural health professionals and committed to respond, in partnership, to support wellbeing and self-care to sustain a healthy workforce as they support drought affected communities.

#RuralHealthTogether is a multi-modal digital platform to support rural health professionals through the aggregation of self-care information and tailored support resources. launched in September 2018 via social media campaigns and included messages of support from clinicians, politicians, rural health advocates and administrators.

Responding to evidence, RDN sought to rapidly deploy:

  • support for rural health professional wellbeing and capability.
  • collaboration with content providers.
  • provision of easily accessible resources.

Following feedback from the workforce, organisations, including CRANAplus, are providing workshops promoting positive mental health and resilience to support practitioners; and education focussed on upskilling practitioners to provide enhanced mental health care during crises such as the drought.

In the first six months of operation #RuralHealthTogether results included:

  • 820 practitioners across Australia accessing content
  • Over 50% accessing self-care and news content
  • 70% of access resulting from social media or online referral

Rural health professionals have accessed #RuralHealthTogether for wellbeing and self‐care information and support.

RDN’s program evaluation framework, partnered with digital media experts, will:

  • inform the next iteration of support messages and targeted initiatives
  • further explore social media’s role supporting rural mental health professional wellbeing.

#RuralHealthTogether’s messaging and support are relevant beyond the current crisis and RDN will continue to advocate and facilitate promotion of self-care for the rural health workforce.


Dr Laura Hardaker is a qualified occupational therapist with a PhD in mental health. She worked clinically for over thirteen years and now works for the Rural Doctors Network as their workforce engagement manager. Laura is passionate about the health and wellbeing of all individuals across Australia and her work at RDN has focused on supporting the health workforce by promoting access, quality and sustainable health services. Through the advancement of Rural Health Pro, Laura continues to work on connecting health professionals across Australia.

United We Stand

Mrs Kathy Arthurs1

1Royal Flying Doctor Service, Central Operations, Alice Springs, Australia


Different stakeholders at times connect to provide services that enable people to live and work in remote Australia. The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and the Alice Springs Hospital (ASH) based Medical Retrieval and Consultation Centre (MRaCC) have partnered together to provide a 24 hours aeromedical service across Central Australia, an area the size of Western Europe. This model provides support and assistance to the Remote Area Nurses (RANS) in Remote Clinics, removing the concept they are working totally alone.

Prior to February 2018, requests for medical advice and evacuation were directed to an on-call Remote Medical Practitioner, a primary care specialist who consulted as required with the duty Emergency Consultant managing the ASH Emergency Department. On occasions, RANS would make multiple telephone calls for clinical advice and support and it became evident the pre-retrieval management of critically unwell patients in particular was suboptimal and not timely, escalating the response for a deteriorating patient.

Post February 2018, MRaCC alone lead the co-ordination and management of retrievals in the Central Australian region. Serviced by dedicated critical care trained retrieval consultants, who are not otherwise engaged with ongoing primary health care consults or the overseeing of a busy ED, these expert clinicians are familiar with the relevant patient populations, the professional aeromedical platform and personnel of the RFDS, and are ready to assess, treat, manage and retrieve patients to definitive care in a timely manner thereby reducing the course of deterioration.

The diversity displayed in Central Australia, through the co-operation of MRaCC, RANS and the RFDS has resulted in a safer, more effective and efficient retrieval service for the patients resulting in the referring RANS and the RFDS Flight Nurses, even though working remote, to feel far less alone.


Registered Nurse, Registered Midwife, Graduate Diploma Emergency, Bachelor Health Management (Operational), Certificate IV Training & Assessment.

Worked 28 years in a rural hospital in NSW and 14 years as a Flight Nurse.

Currently Senior Flight Nurse, Royal Flying Doctor Service, Central Operations, Alice Springs Base NT.