Halls Creek sits on the northern edge of the Great Sandy Desert in the heart of the wild Kimberley. The extreme remoteness and harsh conditions can make it tough to recruit GPs to Yura Yungi Medical Service.
Recently Dr Lewis Rassaby decided it was “time he did his bit” and was recruited to the health service by Rural Health West (RHW). He was welcomed with open arms!
“I am glad and proud to say this – for the first time in the 4 years I have been here, we no longer need the advertisement (for a GP),” said Yura Yungi Executive Manager, Chona Mae Garabato.
“And it is all thanks to Rural Health West. We now have two GPs who were both introduced by (RHW). We also have a third GP courtesy of locum funding who also came to us via RHW.”
20 October 2022
No matter where you are
Rural & Remote Australia
Pictured: YYMS Management and GPs. Dr. Rassaby, (3rd from left), Chona Garabato (2nd from right)
Halls Creek has a population of just over 3,000, predominantly indigenous Australians. It has been an enduring challenge to recruit and retain GPs in permanent roles at the Yura Yungi Medical Service, which provides care for the local population. The harsh environment, limited access to goods and services and professional isolation has deterred many GPs from choosing to practice here. In summer, maximum temperatures regularly exceed 40 degrees; while in the wet season, many access roads become impassable.
Dr Lewis Rassaby recently decided to make his contribution to supporting one of the country’s most vulnerable communities and accepted at role with Yura Yungi. His starting date was delayed somewhat due to the flooding on his own property in NSW and state border restrictions at the time. But boy was the team pleased once he arrived.
Rural Workforce Agencies actively recruit and support primary health care staff into rural and remote communities across Australia. These services extend to nurses, midwives and allied health professionals, as well as GPs. Funded by the Commonwealth Government, this is a fee-free service for practices and professionals can also access grants to support their relocation costs and transition into their new environment.
Beth McEwan leads the Workforce Solutions team at Rural Health West.
“Our role is to match health professionals with communities that meet their professional and/or lifestyle aspirations, as well as placing health professionals who can fulfil the needs of the community.
“Halls Creek is home to some of our most vulnerable peoples and the GPs we recruit there need to provide a mix of culturally appropriate chronic disease management and emergency care, as well as ensuring any treatments or care plans can be managed in such a remote location.
“We are extremely proud to have placed three such GPs into the Halls Creek community.”
Rural Health West will provide Dr Rassaby and his colleagues with a variety of supports to help him to maximise his opportunity at Yura Yungi and to impact the sustainability of his services. This includes professional development grants, access to regional peer engagement programs and locum support for when he is ready for a holiday.