Nhulunbuy Northern Territory student news

Tuesday 20 October 2015

While on her six-week placement in Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory, Jacqui Jones, a current Goulburn Rural Stream student met up with former Goulburn Rural Stream students Justine O’Shea (2006) and Amber Ruane (2011).

Justine has completed her ACRRM training. Amber completed her intern and RMO years in the Northern Territory and is recently returned for GP ACRRM training, after changing from orthopaedic training.

Jacqui has just returned from her NT Rotation and has written the following about her experience:

Nhulunbuy, or Gove as white folk call it, is a township of approximately 2000 people located in the Northeast Arnhem Land at the top end of Northern Territory. It is home to the Yolngu Aboriginal people. Recently, I was lucky enough to spend six weeks in this beautiful town and could not speak highly enough of my time there.

The population of Gove is a mixture of local Yolngu people who temporarily or permanently live in town, Rio Tinto Alcan workers and their families and staff from the handful of health facilities located in the town. There are also many Yolngu people living on traditional land in the surrounding homeland communities The major health facility is the Gove District Hospital which is a 32 bed acute care facility with an emergency department, general ward, maternity ward, single theatre, outpatients clinic, pathology lab and x-ray department. This is complemented by two general practice clinics in town and a further three in the neighbouring towns. There is also a private company which provides an outreach health service to around 30 homeland communities via 4-wheel drive and air chartered services.

I spent the majority of my time at the hospital, working both on the ward and in the ED. During this time I was fortunate enough to spend a few days on the maternity ward, witnessing the labour and deliveries of Yolngu women and babies, being involved in Caesarean sections and also assisting in women's health consultations. The majority of the patients I saw were Yolngu people, often brought in from their homeland communities, which provided me with insight and experience in Aboriginal health and the cultural challenges this involves. Not only was the demographic profile of the patients very different to anything I was accustomed to, I also saw many conditions and presentations I had only read about in textbooks prior to the placement.  I was also extremely lucky to join a doctor on an outreach visit to a homeland community of only about 40 people, most of whom we consulted that day!

My placement in Gove was far more educational, enjoyable and enriching than I could ever have imagined and I would have loved to have spent more time there. The land is breathtaking, the community beautifully peaceful and the people ever so warm and welcoming. I am exceptionally grateful and humbled to have had the opportunity to experience this incredible place.

Photograph: Homelands Clinic

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