Action-packed August in Nhulunbuy, NT

Nhulunbuy - Miwatj Clinic - Garma 2016
Jessica Lopes, Jeans Papperill, Alexander Tilley outside Miwatj Clinic – Garma 2016

August has proven to be a month full of action for Flinders NT staff and students based in Nhulunbuy, East Arnhem Land, probably Australia’s remotest clinical education training facility.

Garma Festival
The long weekend at the beginning of the month brought the Garma Festival of Traditional Cultures 2016 with five Nhulunbuy based medical students participating in the Miwatj Health Clinic out at the Gulkula site. The students soaked up the immense amount of culture, discussions and ideas on display. This is a truly unique experience to taste the strength of culture in these parts by participating in bunggul, spear making, pandanus weaving, astronomy tours, walks on country plus the very special local music inspired by the original and ground breaking band, Yothu Yindi. Yothu Yindi translates to child (yothu) plus mother (yindi) in yolngu matha language.




Victoria Orpin, Monica Barolits-McCabe & Prof John Wakerman at Garma 2016
Victoria Orpin, Monica Barolits-McCabe & Prof John Wakerman at Garma 2016

Prof John Wakerman and Monica Barolits-McCabe travelled from Darwin to attend the annual premier Yolngu event in East Arnhem Land. Flinders NT held an expo stall and staff were on hand to answer a wide range of questions around the Northern Territory Medical Program and other Flinders University courses on offer in Adelaide. Jeans Pepperill a first year NTMP student travelled with them to assist and partake of the rich array of people and place.

Victoria Orpin, Project Officer – Research Associate from the Centre for Remote Health (CRH), working out of the Nhulunbuy office is continuing her project work on the Remote Primary Health Care Manuals. She was able to make contact with potential users and reviewers out at Garma obtaining great engagement from Top End Health Service (TEHS), Miwatj Health and Laynhapuy Health, three local health entities working with Yolngu people.





Student Update
Nhulunbuy’s current crop of students is represented by Rury Liddle from Alice Springs NTMP, Jess Lopes from Alice Springs NTMP, Halla Malik – JCU Darwin based, Buzz Tilley and Brad Jackson from University of Wollongong. We also recently said farewell to Emily Meier a Charles Darwin University pharmacy student and look forward to welcoming a home grown Flinders nursing student, Madelaine Barnett next month. Last month Miwatj Health welcomed back one of last year’s Year 12 students from Nhulunbuy High School to study medicine, Alex Parfitt who shadowed a GP at Yirrkala for several days.

Recreational Pursuits
Life in Nhulunbuy has been incredibly full with the students availing themselves of recreational pursuits including sports, camping and music. A half marathon, Australian Rules Football, the annual Rotary beach volley ball weekend, hunting, fishing, CareFlight retrievals from homelands, and other assorted medical trips to the outlying homelands via small plane and troopy. Our senior lecturer, Dr Sarah Chalmers is a notable mention for completing the half marathon along with Halla, Buzz and Brad.

Gemma Porteous at Nhulunbuy Careers Expo 2016
Gemma Porteous at Nhulunbuy Careers Expo 2016


Careers Expo 2016
Careers Expo 2016 was held at the Nhulunbuy Town Hall with Stars Foundation and Klontarf kids participating along with all senior students from Nhulunbuy High School, Yirrkala and Gapuwiyak schools.  We took along Baby Hal and a double stethoscope so the kids could listen firstly to Hal’s heartbeat and then their own to tell us what the differences are.

Health was a dominant theme at the Expo and put forward as a strong career option for high schoolers from the region. Flinders NT once again played a part in promoting our medical program and other Flinders courses on offer either from or in Adelaide. It is incredibly pleasurable to follow up these events with invitations to the schools to come spend time with us in our wonderful facility so we can talk more to the kids about what their options are. Just because they live remote it does not mean they cannot participate in a fantastic working life with the ability to provide essential services to the communities in which they live.



CranaPlus & Laynhapuy staff training at Flinders Nhulunbuy
CranaPlus & Laynhapuy staff training at Flinders Nhulunbuy

Clinical Education Training Facility
The Flinders NT Nhulunbuy Clinical Education Training Facility has played host to a great variety of events for the month. One of the most exciting has been the return for the third year of CranaPlus who provide annual ATSI Training for Aboriginal Health Practitioners working on country with Laynhapuy Health, along with annual refreshers for their dedicated staff of remote area nurses.

The Northern Territory Primary Health Network have brought four visiting outreach specialists to our tutorial room providing invaluable professional education for doctors, nurses, students and allied health professionals around the topics of brain injury, dermatology, TB and paediatrics. We have also managed to continue our video or teleconferencing links with Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island and recently added Ramingining. These education events are providing opportunities for many health professionals to attain prized professional development whilst staying at home.

The Department of Health provided the chance for our medical students to participate in a well subscribed course ‘Caring for the Unwell Patient’ followed by ‘Advanced Life Support ALS2’ for department emergency personnel.

Meanwhile the Top End Health Service (TEHS) is utilising Flinders to undertake meetings, advisory group activities and other clinical activities whilst the Emergency Department of Gove District Hospital undertakes a major renovation.

Our continuing commitment locally to supporting NT General Practice Education activities in the region means we supply the venue and educational expertise for mandatory practice learning and small group learning for junior GP Registrars. Flinders is facilitating the new coordinated teaching approach for GP registrars by TEHS, Endeavour Health Service, Miwatj Health and Laynhapuy Health which allows our students to once again partake in the practice learning sessions, offering invaluable insights into what may be required of them in the future as a GP.

August has been the perfect month to showcase the contribution Flinders is making to the community via student community participation, the offer and facilitation of alternative career opportunities, and the coordination and hosting of clinical education and training within this vast region.

Flinders University is putting forward a credible contribution in the East Arnhem Land region to making a difference.

Author: Gemma Porteous, Campus Administrator, Nhulunbuy

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Flinders NT