Jessica Payne’s recent nursing placement in Tennant Creek coordinated by Flinders NT Remote and Rural Inter Professional Placement Learning Team (RIPPLNT) has confirmed her intention to become a Remote Area Nurse.
A third year Nursing Student with Charles Darwin University and an Aboriginal woman based in Queensland, Jessica received financial support through a Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) and the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) scholarship to complete a four week placement at the Tennant Creek Hospital.
Her interest in Aboriginal Health is one that is deeply personal and her sole motivation to pursue a career in health care. Jessica describes how becoming a mother inspired her to contribute to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“When the opportunity to attend a specialised placement in Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory presented itself I knew that this was a challenge I had to accept. I hoped it would expand on my knowledge, provide opportunity to connect with community and expose me to the health and social barriers as a daily reality faced by Aboriginal people,” says Jessica.
While recent media attention on Tennant Creek and the Barkly Region was daunting, Jessica explains that it didn’t take long for the community of Tennant Creek to welcome her and to display the dedication and sense of community that is a key part of the remote lifestyle.
As part of her placement at Tennant Creek Hospital, Jessica was able to spend time with the Barkly Primary Health Outreach Team, visiting local communities and caring for people in their homes.
Jessica says, “I was privileged to work alongside the health professionals whose dedication to the local Aboriginal people across the life span is the true essence of cultural capability. Care and services delivered reflected, acknowledged and respected the importance of the preservation of culture, language and lore.
“I listened to people speak of hardships unimaginable for most. I heard frustrations of determinants of health continuing to shorten lives and create cycles of crisis. I have seen poverty, overcrowding and people without basic human rights.
“Yet still in the face of this I have been witness to resilience, strength, joy, family, language and maintenance of cultural heritage.”
Jessica is grateful to CATSINaM, The RFDS and Flinders NT in providing the support to allow her to undertake this placement.
“I have met people on this journey who have taught me things that no university degree can define, people who inspire with their love for their community and a willingness to give the gift of time and knowledge to help people understand their struggles. I now know that I want to be a Remote Area Nurse and intend to continue my study which will include midwifery, to gain the skills and knowledge required to make a difference”.