Second week of staying connected with Friends

Join us for a cuppa - Lynne Strathie

Today we enjoyed the second Join us for a cuppa session—a short social opportunity for members and Friends of the Alliance to have some time out and enjoy the company of like-minded Friends. The vibe of this week’s Zoom meeting was one of positivity, innovation and collaboration. None of those qualities are new to Friends, but it was energising to feel them so clearly displayed.  

This week we were joined by:

Felicity Gemmell-Smith from Moree who introduced us to her abandoned kangaroo. Unlike humans at the moment, this kangaroo is going to a new rescue home tomorrow to be socially connected to other kangaroos. (Our time will come—but we will be patient!)

Rosemary Young, life member of Friends of the Alliance, from the Southern Highlands of NSW. Rosemary recalled that at the time she was awarded life membership she was planning to retire and enjoy a quiet rural life. She can't be that good at planning, however, because she confessed to being flat-out working from home in a job she loves! She is Director of Operations with the Sisters of Charity Australia ( Rosemary commented that it has been very reassuring to see how small communities come together to support each other at times like this. The support, encouragement and positivity on show, especially from young people, has been heart-warming and encouraging. Rosemary said she is in awe of the work of the Alliance and the connection Friends brings and she is delighted to be part of it still.

Former Chair of Friends of the Alliance, Chris Moorhouse from Chudleigh, Tasmania, who provided an update on the current COVID-19 situation in NW Tasmania.

Irene Mills from Pithara in the northern wheatbelt of WA. Irene is another former Chair of Friends. She said that because there have fortunately been so few cases of COVID-19 in rural WA, it was possible that some saw it as a city-centric condition. It would be a mistake to believe this and everyone must remain vigilant. Irene reminded us that within the state the separate regions have been shut down, with a review likely in mid-May. Irene felt very lucky to be in Australia and we are all responsible for ensuring we continue to flatten the curve.

Kristen Glenister, Research Fellow from University of Melbourne, commented after the meeting that she is currently supervising two final year medical students. She and they are interested in how final year students will be impacted (graduation, competencies required by peak bodies, intern or job applications) as well as the flow-on impacts for other students around placements and competencies. Kristen is also researching mental health, resilience, innovation and the preparedness of individuals and workplaces, and how these might be enhanced by the COVID-19 situation. Kristen is also part of a group looking at remote patient monitoring for rural people at risk of hospitalisation. This type of monitoring could become even more essential to reduce risk of exposure for vulnerable people, reduce burden for hospitals, enhance self-management and reduce unnecessary medical appointments.

The National Rural Health Student Network (NRHSN) was represented by Krishn Parmar (NRHA Council Member and third year dentistry student from Western Australia), and Harry Jude (Chair of the NRHSN and third year medical student from Wagga Wagga, NSW). Harry and Krishn acknowledged the support of the universities and rural health bodies and praised the innovation and adaptability of students. 

They commented that rural students have the benefit of placements in smaller communities where they can still engage with clinicians, see patients and witness the total redesign of how a hospital works in times of crisis. Krishn commented that the global response has local contexts, especially in WA where the schools are working together with a coordinated response and consistent messaging.

Gordon Gregory commented on how lucky students in rural health clubs are because of their familiarity with remote learning. They must find it amusing to see people like him trying to come to terms with modern communications!

Caroline Robertson, from one of the Alliance’s member organisations, Exercise and Sports Science Australia, joined from Queensland.

Adrian Schoo from the Prideaux Centre for Research in Health Professions Education at Flinders University recently presented to the International Network of Health Workforce Educators on a complexity theory perspective on crisis situations, and what this means for inter-professional education and practice. Adrian acknowledged he didn’t have much time to develop and prepare, but said it was very well received and provided this link:

Building response capability to emerging health needs with IPE (Part 1) | Adrian Schoo | Premieres Thursday 16th April 2020 at 11:30 (CEST)

Robin Bryant from the Mallacoota Community Health Infrastructure and Resilience Fund joined with a picturesque image of Mallacoota in the background.

David Lindsay, James Cook University and Member of the Friends Advisory Committee.

There was discussion about the preparedness of rural communities for COVID-19. Preparations are being made, with some hospital systems being totally redesigned. In SA members of the Rural Health Clubs have been able to observe such things as hospital innovations to combat the crisis. It is important for us to be mindful of the special needs of those who are more vulnerable.  

Lynne Strathie, who had dressed up especially for today, had technical issues and unfortunately was unable to join in from Darwin. But here's proof of the trouble she went to. Looking great Lynne!!

Alliance staff in the session were Gabrielle O’Kane, Janine Turnbull, Peter Brown, Tim Hurd and Leanne Coleman decked out by Beanies for Brain Cancer.

Leanne gave a plug to the musical collaboration between Friends of the Alliance and Josh Arnold’s Small Town Culture and reminded participants that 17 April is the deadline to submit ideas for stage one of the project. The theme and title of the song will be announced soon and there will be another opportunity to contribute at that stage.

For information go to:

Next catch-up 10.30am Friday, 24 April 2020

If you are interested in joining next week email [email protected] and we will send you the link to log in.

Stay connected but at a safe distance!



Thank you for such an opportunity, although I may not be able partake in all our Cuppa meetings, I found the opportunity to catch across what is occurring very helpful indeed and have passed this on to other SW networks, Take Care All and Thanks, Martin

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