Answering The Call | Marathon Health
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Our people Students and graduates Posted: 18 April 2023

Answering the call

Coonamble is a small town of just 2,750 people. Located in the central-western plains of New South Wales, this country town is one of hundreds that struggle to attract a retain an allied health workforce. This means less service availability, more travel, and a lack of understanding of the complexities of community members’ needs.

What’s one way to improve access to healthcare? Partnering with local organisations who understand exactly what people need. The icing on the cake? Having two occupational therapists move to the small community to provide better outcomes for locals.

Introducing Ella and Hannah

Hannah and Ella are both graduate occupational therapists with Marathon Health, who have moved to country Australia to do their part in addressing a skills and service shortage.

“I like the peace and quiet, but we can’t quickly pop to the shops, so it has definitely been a big move and transition for us all,” Hannah remarks, having moved to a property with her partner and 12-year-old daughter.

Hannah graduated from the University of Newcastle and had limited experience in the NDIS space as an OT, so she was eager to learn more.

“I didn’t think I would be working in the NDIS straight out of uni, it’s a new world but my team have been super supportive in helping me navigate it, and I am really enjoying it.

I have recently picked up new participants in small towns like Trangie and Nyngan, and I look forward to providing outreach support to those in smaller, rural communities.” Hannah said.

Living and working in country Australia comes with its own challenges and for Ella she knew that becoming an OT was her calling and that the work sits well with her values.

“I work hard to make sure my clients feel empowered to be themselves and they are in a safe space when meeting with me – thanks to the Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service (CAHS) building,” Ella said.

Hannah and Ella work at the Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service in town, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the organisation and Marathon Health that has been agreed upon by Ruth Luppino, Practice Manager of the centre.

“I love working in this space because it is a great way to connect with community and build relationships. Everyone is helpful and inclusive which is a common theme that I have picked up on since moving to a small country town.

Although I work remotely, away from my Marathon Health team, we build each other up and are always willing to help each other. It has been a great start to my career as an OT,” Hannah said.

Completing a degree through covid was isolating, so for Ella, after she graduated, she craved human connection. Seeking this connection meant a swift, six hour drive north-west of Canberra to live in Coonamble. This big move meant she could see people face-to-face, listen to people’s stories, build community relationships, and do her part in supporting country Australians to access support they need.

“It’s a small town so I see my clients down the street, at the shops and at the weekend football. It means I can level with them and be empathetic in my approach.

“I live out here, I don’t outreach from a large country city like Dubbo, so I understand what impacts my clients to attend therapy. I have also met other health professionals in town. It’s not competitive – its supportive and collaborative,” Ella said.

Graduating university can be daunting, securing a new graduate position can be challenging and moving towns for a new role can be hard, but all these hurdles lead to exciting new adventures. For Ella and Hannah these triumphs and challenges have created a rewarding career in rural New South Wales. They are helping country Australians live the life they choose, and it means the Coonamble community can access better healthcare closer to home.

Page last updated: 4 December 2023

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