Women working in rural and remote Australia- a Primary Health Nurse Perspective

Miss Kristy James1

1RFDSSE, Broken Hill , Australia


Share my nursing journey from AIN to RN and beyond as a single parent in a rural mining town. To explore the different pathways in nursing and the barriers single women face to gain professional development and education opportunities when living in rural/remote locations.

Explain my job as a Primary Health Nurse for the RFDSSE based in Broken Hill. I would like to talk about my scope of practice and my professional development in line with the job. CRANAplus courses I have completed and of course the Graduate Certificate in Remote Health Practice. Explain the diversity of my work from the locations, the way I travel to work (plane), the teams I work with to provide holistic care to the South Eastern Section of the RFDS. From Broken Hill we provide 24 hour emergency retrievals, covering a land mass of approximately 640,000 km². And I am part of the network of primary health clinics where patients can access community health nurses, dentists, AHP, mental health and allied health professionals.

The cost of further education and having to work full time and do clinical placement for 8 week blocks. Working in Primary Health usually means the hours are family friendly. Shift work is a deterrent to single women with children choosing Nursing as a career. Unfortunately the clinical placements required to complete a Bachelors degree is unattainable for most women. University require students to travel from their rural/remote location to metropolitan hospitals which impossible if you’re are the primary carer.

Availability of affordable child care and the lack places available for children.

The increasing cost of travel to and from Broken Hill to visit family and friends.

The cost of the rental properties in Broken Hill that are substandard and older then the urban areas.


42year old single mother to one child (15year old boy),lived in Broken Hill for 12 years- from WA(2006). Started studying as a mature aged student through the local TAFE (2007), completed Cert 3in  Assistant in Nursing which lead me to study a Cert 4 in Enrolled Nursing-2009 (first year in was offered in Broken Hill, as a working single mother this changed my life!) I then was accepted into University starting at CSU(2010) and transferred to UniSA (2013)Bachelor of Nursing and have a recently completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Remote Health Practice(2018) through Flinders University.

Are you safe and secure when working – anywhere and anytime?

Mrs Brenda Birch1

1CRANAplus, CAIRNS, Australia


Every person, no matter where they work, cultural background or whatever the work arrangement, has the right to physical and psychologically health and safety at work (Safety Work Australia 2019).   With increasing evidence showing correlations between worker health, safety and wellbeing and improving patient outcomes it’s critically important to improve the experience for those that work in remote and isolated healthcare, fundamentally their safety and security.

To date data shows that there is significant uptake of knowledge generated from the CRANAplus safety and security projects as evident by adoption of guidelines, downloads of resources and enrolments in training programs.  A further mixed method evaluation of the Stay Safe and Security (SSS) course conducted by Dr. Tess Opie 2019, has indicated overwhelming support and favourable attitudes towards the SSS course (including its perceived cultural safety). Reported changes to workplace safety practices, as well as the introduction and development of new workplace safety guidelines and policies were purportedly the result of exposure to, and participation in the SSS training.  However, to date there appears no empirical data to date addressing workplace violence for less traditional roles in remote and isolated health, such as indigenous health workers, aged care personal care assistants, administrative staff, ancillary staff such as transport officers and support staff.

This session will generate:

  • Awareness of current interventions including Safety and Security Guidelines translation into practice;
  • Challenge attitudes, perceptions and reform of safety and security; and
  • Highlight accountabilities and action moving forward.

Beyond safety and security advocacy, training and support, what role should CRANAplus have into the future?

Safety Work Australia 2019, Work-related psychological health and safety, National Guidance Material web link: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/system/files/documents/1901/work-related_psychological_health_and_safety_guide.pdf

Opie, T., 2018, The Remote Workforce Safety Training Project: Evaluation Report CRANAplus


Brenda Birch is an experience clinician with a passion for safe, high quality healthcare within a number of key quality, safety and risk leadership roles across Australian.  Brenda has presented on a number of clinical and organisation risk management topic in Australia and London and currently holds the National Safety and Security Portfolio with CRANAplus.  Qualifications include: RN, RM, Grad Cert. Health Service Management, Cert IV Train the Trainer, Cert IV WHS, Diploma Risk Management, Green Belt Six Sigma, Grad Dip Engineering and currently studying MBA. Email: brenda@crana.org.au

Vaccine Story: The journey a vaccine takes to a remote Australian community

Mrs Lyn Byers1, Mr Tobias Speare1

1Central Australian Rural Practitioners Association Inc. (CARPA), Alice Springs, Australia


The purpose of the presentation

The presentation raises awareness of a short freely available health promotion video, Vaccine Story. It tells the story of a vaccine’s journey from a supply centre to administration in a remote Aboriginal community in a novel, engaging and culturally appropriate manner.

The nature and scope of the topic

The video is aimed at anyone involved in the process of transporting vaccines to remote communities. Its purpose is to raise awareness of the need to maintain the cold chain and the threats to the cold chain, including recognition of environmental, organisational and logistical challenges associated with getting vaccines to remote communities. The video highlights the additional risks associated with transporting vaccines to remote communities as a stimulus for people involved in the process to seek clarification and ask questions. An explanation of how vaccines work is provided in plain English to give the message significance; this is why you should care that the esky is packed correctly or why you should check a bus is going to the community on a particular day.

The issue or problem under consideration

The effectiveness of many vaccines is dependent on correct storage. Recent research in Central Australia has highlighted questions regarding the integrity of the vaccine cold chain to remote Aboriginal communities.

The outcome or the conclusion reached

The Vaccine Story video addresses some of these concerns through strengthening  the understanding of the importance of the cold chain among those involved in the transportation and storage of  vaccines. In doing so this will attempt to mitigate the doubts of health care staff and end users regarding breaches of the cold chain.


Lyn Byers is a Nurse Practitioner in the speciality of Remote Area Nursing, a Midwife and Mental Health Nurse. She has worked in Central Australia since 2001 as a Remote Area Nurse, midwife and mental health nurse. She chair’s the editorial committee for the Remote Primary Health Care Manuals and is secretary for CARPA.  She is also a CRANA+ board member.  Lyn is passionate about delivering high quality primary health care in remote areas and promoting the work remote area clinicians do in difficult circumstances.