At Nganampa Health, our people are our greatest strength.

We are a community of primary healthcare professionals united by our desire to make a difference, and we understand the power of every small step.

We embrace the diversity of our challenge and thrive on the rewards that come with it.

We learn and experience something new every day, and we are supported by the professionalism and spirit of our colleagues and our organisation.

Meet Bernie Wilkinson

Locum Remote Area Nurse

Meet Bernie Wilkinson

Locum Remote Area Nurse

Coming from an indigenous background, Bernie is passionate about providing important health services to remote aboriginal communities as a Community Locum Health Nurse.

“I always wanted to be able to give back to my people, and being a nurse means that I can provide valuable and sometimes life-saving services to those with limited access to health care.”

All the way through university, Bernie was interested in what it would take for her to become a Remote Area Nurse (RAN) and the experience she needed for the role.

In fact, years before she joined Nganampa Health, while she was still studying, she spoke with the organisation to learn what the roles entailed.

“Right from my first conversation with NHC, I knew it would be a great place to work. I liked the management’s matter-of-fact approach and supportive culture. It was my goal from the beginning of my career to work in remote

Bernie reports that one of the best things about her job is the opportunity to have full autonomy in her role. Unlike working with hospitals, remote area nursing gives individuals the chance to improve health outcomes for patients from beginning to end, without the restrictions.

As a Locum Health Nurse, Bernie has applied to similar organisations during her tenure with NHC, and she’s chosen to withdrawn these applications due to her experiences during the recruitment process.

“NHC is a highly organised and professional organisation. I’ve had dealings with similar organisations and NHC is by far the best. Unlike some of the other health councils, you can be confident that when you accept a contract with NHC, they’ll do everything they say they will and help you every step of the way.”

In the challenging role of remote area nursing, Bernie says she loves her job. With highly competitive remuneration and the flexibility of a fly-in-fly-out locum role she has the opportunity to make a positive impact and also spend time with her family back home.

“There’s a great culture, a huge amount of respect for management and a friendly, inclusive team spirit. We’re all supported by management and empowered to do the best we can for our communities.

For anyone out there who’s thinking about a career as a RAN, I’d highly recommend NHC as the best choice.”

Meet Dr Mike Langran

Medical Officer

Meet Dr Mike Langran

Medical Officer

“I am so lucky to work with nursing staff who are so committed to the health of their community. I am very privileged to be able to work with them and to be a part of the wider NHC team.”

Dr Mike Langran joined Nganampa Health Council in January 2017 and works as a Medical Officer at the Amata, Nyapari and Pipalyatjara clinics. After spending 20 years working in the North of Scotland as a UK trained doctor, Mike moved to Australia to work with RFDS, where he stayed for almost four years. When the time came to search for a new challenge, Mike didn’t want to go back into mainstream general practice and had heard from colleagues about the work of Nganampa Health.

“Right from the start I was so impressed with the staff here. I was impressed by their attitude, the support they provided and the opportunities they offered me. People had told me about their reputation, and they were not wrong. I have nothing but praise for everyone here.”

Working as a Medical Officer with Nganampa Health can be a very challenging role. Based predominantly in Amata, Mike will spend 2 weeks on the Lands and the following 2 weeks on call from Adelaide, providing remote assistance to the nursing staff. Mike has worked as a rural practitioner for most of his life, making it clear he thrives professionally on the challenge of rural medicine and the satisfaction of solving complex and rare medical cases.

“As a doctor, you want people to lead healthy and positive lives, within the means of each community. We have unique challenges but the real reward is seeing kids healthy, growing up happy with big smiles. It’s also rewarding to empower older people and learn from their stories too.”

The NHC clinics operate differently to other mainstream services as there are no appointments and patients are seen on a rotation. This makes the clinics extremely fluid with staff working in and out of each other’s rooms, available for discussion, problem solving and to provide support where needed.

“We are a part of a team. I like that I am not just in my little room churning away but I can have a real connection with everyone here. Given our remoteness and cross-state reach, I have been so impressed with the support from management and the support from all my colleagues. There is always so much to learn and yet I have settled in far easier than I thought I ever would.”

Our work with remote communities can sometimes bring unique cultural challenges. It is encouraged that staff take the time to really learn about the communities they serve. It’s not a destination for tourists; it’s an opportunity to make a real difference on the frontline of primary health care for Indigenous Australians.

“For medical officers, it’s important to come here with an open mind. You can’t change the world in one day. If you come here with unrealistic expectations and with all guns blazing, you’ll probably struggle. You need to take your time to be accepted and to gain people’s trust. Right now, it’s so satisfying for me; people know me by name and hopefully are listening to my advice.”

Meet Yvonne Fitzpatrick

Accounts Manager

Meet Yvonne Fitzpatrick

Accounts Manager

After 25 years in the Alice Springs office as an Accounts Manager, Yvonne says her biggest motivator has always been to help people on the lands.

“We’re here to help the communities within the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands. We operate seven clinics across the region as well as an aged care facility, and run health related programs like aged care, sexual health, environmental health, health worker training, dental, women’s health, men’s health, children’s health, immunisation and mental health.”

“We’re really a one-stop-shop for our local community’s health needs, and it's such an important job. I feel like over the last 25 years we’ve made so much progress and it feels very rewarding to know that I played a part in that success.”

The health service prides itself on a strong national reputation for best practice clinical services, cutting edge program research and improving client health outcomes. These successes include achieving child immunisation rates of between 90% to 100% and increasing the number of health checks from 84 in 2003/04 to 943 in 2013/14.

After 25 years, Yvonne isn’t planning on going anywhere. Her goal is to stay with Nganampa Health Council until she trains up her replacement and retires. “It's such a warm and friendly working environment. We get together for monthly morning teas and socialise. Getting together with the teams is a good way for me to understand what others are doing within the organisation and helps me feel connected with my colleagues.”

“I would absolutely encourage anyone to apply. Working here is a good life experience. It teaches you to have empathy and compassion for other people and embrace the differences between cultures. While it is good money, at the end of the day, I can’t put a price on the impact I feel I’ve helped create within the lands.

I feel so lucky that I’ve been able to have this experience, gain some valuable life lessons, and feel enlightened by another culture. I have so much respect for the communities living on the lands and all my colleagues who work closely with our patients everyday to deliver incredibly valuable services.”

Meet Marilyn Strawbridge

Residential Care Manager and Personal Care Attendant

Meet Marilyn Strawbridge

Residential Care Manager and Personal Care Attendant

“The people I work with really are here for the right reasons. They love the work they do and the residents they care for. It really makes for an incredible environment.”

Marilyn has been working with Nganampa Health since 2014, recently taking on a job share role as the Residential Care Manager. Her role involves managing the centre, supervising staff, assisting residents and helping with whatever else is needed. She could be working in her office with paperwork, helping residents shower or be folding clothes. Her role is very varied!

“I like my role as a manager and pride myself on doing that well. I also pride myself on helping my staff develop and grow. I do particularly like the personal care role and I get a lot from that day-to-day. It is very fulfilling to bring in people from our community who may need to have a shower, eat lunch or just have a rest.”

After working on the Lands for some time, Marilyn had known of Nganampa Health and initially joined the team as a relief carer. She then took on a full time position to develop her skills in personal care, and when her manager left, she and Tracy Reid took on the role together as Residential Care Manager.

“From when I first visited here, I had a feeling. The facility had a really good name and I could see why. It looked cared for and loved, as did the people.”

While living remotely can be personally challenging for many, Marilyn grew up within a small town and feels at home within this environment and within the community. Being remote does provide challenges to service delivery at times, but Nganampa Health are passionate about making sure their people have exactly what they need to get the job done.

“We do face many of the challenges to being so remote, but Nganampa Health really are amazing when we need things fixed and or we need extra support.”

The first thing Marilyn will tell you, is the pride she has in her team. She is so passionate about working together and how having this cohesive group actually delivers positive outcomes to both the community and to Nganampa Health.

“They are an amazing team of people. They are so hardworking! You can ask almost anything of them and they give it and then, they give a bit more. Not only do they do their job well but they are amazing carers with the residents and with the wider community.”

Working very closely with Tracy in their job share arrangement, Marilyn says it's their work ethic and vision for the future that keeps them striving. With Tracy’s knowledge of aged care over many years Marilyn says she is always learning from her and they complement each other and the wider team very well.

“If you are interested in a new opportunity, and you have the skills to match, Nganampa Health could be for you. Our people have such a thorough knowledge of the clients and the community. I have found NHC to be such an approachable employer, and honestly, I can only say good things about them.”

Meet Zibeon Fielding

Aboriginal Health Worker and Nursing Student

Meet Zibeon Fielding

Aboriginal Health Worker and Nursing Student

Zibeon joined Nganampa Health only a couple of years after leaving high school. Now in his fourth year with the organisation, Zibeon has completed a Certificate IV in Primary Health Care and is close to completing his Nursing degree. From day one, Zibeon’s experiences have been nothing but rewarding.

Having grown up in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands, Zibeon was always aware of NHC and the support they offer the community. After working in another community-focused role, Zibeon decided that health care was where his interests and passion lay.

“When you hear about Aboriginal people having a lower life expectancy than other Australians, you get a real sense of wanting to help your people. I’m Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and the best way to help is through health – and that means promoting the basics of good food, health and hygiene.”

Zibeon’s work with NHC is incredibly varied and allows him to gain experience across all aspects of health care, which he finds much more appealing than working in a specific hospital department. He loves this diversity and is motivated by the everyday challenges he faces in his role.

“You do a lot. You are never just focused on one area. For people who come to us for the first time, and for follow ups, we’re making sure everyone gets the very best health care available to them. That’s my aim.”

Zibeon plays a vital role in the health of people of the APY lands and he is also a translator for community members who have an English barrier. This is an incredibly important ability for Zibeon. “Health care needs to be holistic. You need to be hard working and help people, but it’s also being able to go out there and talk with people. Having yarns can help people a lot.”
Zibeon feels that the culture at NHC is supportive, respectful and motivating – which is important when working in a challenging environment.

“You do deal with challenging things every day, but you have experienced staff here you can fall back on and reach out to for advice. We’re all here wanting to achieve the same goal and that definitely motivates you and makes you want to be a better person and help people. Leaning on other people who are out here pushes you forward. We all get through the day together.”

Zibeon strongly encourages people to join the NHC team. He is proud of the people he works with to better the health of the community. “It’s a great organisation and they definitely provide you with good care and they look after you. We have wonderful staff and I take my hat off to everyone working across the APY lands. If you were a patient stepping through our doors you’d see a nurse or health worker who is humble, respectful, warm and welcoming. And that matters a lot.”

Meet David Walsh

Registered Nurse, Mental Health

Meet David Walsh

Registered Nurse, Mental Health

After training and working overseas in in-patient and community health centres, as well as crisis and assessment teams, David was looking for a new challenge within the mental health space. His interest in Indigenous culture and the challenge and reward that NHC offers is what led him to join the team back in 2013.

“I have always been interested in Indigenous culture. After working for 13 years in New Zealand in Tauranga Hospital in the Bay of Plenty, I was ready for a change. I really wanted a new challenge and when I saw the mental health nurse role that Nganampa Health was offering, I knew it was what I was looking for. It seemed to be a great mix of challenge and reward, and that’s exactly what it has been.”

The change from living in New Zealand to living on the APY lands in the Central Australian desert presents many differences which some people may find difficult to adjust to. Above David’s interest in learning about new cultures and motivation for creating change within remote communities, it’s his resilience as a mental health nurse that contributed to a smooth transition.

“I think it’s fair to say that mental health nurses are very adaptable. I didn’t find the move from New Zealand to the APY lands a problem, especially because NHC are so supportive. They made the transition straightforward. There is always endless support from NHC and all my colleagues - their attitude and experience makes my job easy.”

In addition to mental health nurses, Nganampa Health employs nurses who work and manage specific program areas. These program areas include women’s health, chronic disease management, children’s health, immunisation, eye health, smoking cessation, information management and aged care. These positions make an enormous contribution to the care of our patient’s and many of our successes are as a result of their work.

As a mental health nurse, David’s days are incredibly varied. With a caseload of patients across three communities - Mimili, Ernabella (Pukatja) and Indulkana (Iwantja) - his role involves a lot of driving due to the distance between these areas. Ongoing case management, liaising with GPs and psychiatrists, administering medication and monitoring progress within the community are key parts of David’s diverse role. He also works closely alongside clinic staff and other registered nurses to provide patients with mental health support.

“Previously I’d worked in quite large community mental health teams. Here it’s very different. You work a lot on your own. While you still work with other nurses and psychiatrists you are very autonomous, which is something I enjoy. I manage my own day and responsibilities.”

Having a confident, experienced team is necessary when working remotely and in challenging situations. David believes that everyone at Nganampa Health brings with them unrivalled experience and knowledge that consistently allows them to deliver important outcomes for the community.

“Something I love seeing at NHC is how much experience our clinic nurses have. They are very used to often working without a doctor present, so they all have amazing decision-making skills and sharp clinical skills. Having people like that out here really helps us do great work each day.”

While the issues of remoteness language and social disadvantage present a challenge, the dedicated NHC team has found solutions for overcoming them . In the years since David joined in 2013, he’s been able to witness first-hand the many mental health patient success stories that NHC achieves.

“From being here, it’s evident that so many of our patients in the community do get well. A few years ago, we had a patient who was in a terrible state. They were struggling with a mental illness. But as we began to help, we slowly saw their mental state improve to the point where they are now painting again, working, driving and socialising. I’m proud to say there are so many examples like this.”

David is quick to encourage people to join NHC, but stresses that as Nganampa Health’s success lies in its team, people must first be sure they have the right traits and perspective needed to play a part in the vital work that’s done every day.

“Our teams are made up of experienced people who are very supportive and highly professional. For those wanting to join us, they need to have high cultural awareness and respect, be able to adapt to a remote setting, be flexible and incredibly self-aware. You also need to be able to look after yourself, be kind to yourself and enjoy time off to reconnect with family and friends who don’t live out here.

There are so many unique experiences to be had working at Nganampa Health. Beyond the important work I get to do, it’s this country, the beautiful sunsets, the landscape and culture that have been so worthwhile. I really will never forget it. After my time here I can’t see myself returning to work in a metropolitan area again - that option now seems mundane.”

Looking ahead, David is focused on continuing to develop positive outcomes for mental health patients on the APY lands and providing quality treatment. He is driven to build on existing programs and develop new ones which will improve the lives of patients. In David’s eyes, a good outcome for a patient is always a good outcome for the community.

Meet Sally Burton

Remote Area Nurse

Meet Sally Burton

Remote Area Nurse

For community health nurse Sally Burton, losing multiple staff to remote healthcare placements set her on a new professional path.

In a past life, Sally was working in a hospital in a managerial role and preparing for semi-retirement when, after fielding call after call from nursing agencies seeking references for her staff to go on locum placements, she decided to shake things up and give it a go herself.

“I was getting all these calls from agencies asking for references and the more I heard the stories from nurses working in a remote setting, the more interesting it sounded and the more excited I got about giving it a go myself,” Sally says.

Sally started locum work with Nganampa Health in 2012. “I thought I’d do it for a year. Well, the rest is history. I wasn’t thinking I’d go out and save the world, but it was something new, something exciting and it offered travel, further education in nursing, excellent money and the chance to experience a completely new world and fascinating work.”

For Sally, working with the local community, living on the APY Lands and being part of the Nganampa Health community brings as many rewards as it does challenges. “This is a really challenging position on the front line of primary health where you are not just learning to work within a culture that is different to your own, you also need to understand the limitations of how much you can help.”

“I obviously do feel frustrated from time to time as we’d all like to make an even bigger impact but what we do is so often about small, powerful steps.

Over time, I have gotten to know the Anangu people better and they have accepted me which makes a huge difference to the care I can provide.

One of the best things about being here is that every day I am learning something new, so academically and professionally, I feel extremely fulfilled.”

Sally says that her rewards at Nganampa Health come from a mix of ongoing education and bettering her practice and herself, as well as professional satisfaction and salary.

“It is far more financially beneficial to work in a remote setting in health care, but that’s not what drives me. The work is so varied and I love the autonomy and responsibility of my job that definitely beats being in a hospital.”

It’s not just the local community and professional satisfaction that provides a sense of satisfaction. Sally has forged lasting bonds with her colleagues, who she describes as being more like family.

“Because of the setting and the challenge, the friendships you make with teammates are somehow stronger than those you make elsewhere.

“I’ve worked overseas and at Nganampa Health it feels a bit like the ‘expat’ community you have when you are away from home. And because you don’t have all the comforts you are used to, everyone chips in and makes an extra effort for each other.”

So, what does her future at Nganampa Health look like?

“Considering I thought I’d stay for one year and it has been a lot longer than that, I think I’ll be here for a while still. I can’t see myself working anywhere else as I haven’t found anything that appeals as much as working for Nganampa Health.”

Meet Lee Lawrie

Health Worker & Nursing Student

Meet Lee Lawrie

Health Worker & Nursing Student

Lee began her journey with Nganampa Health Council 26 years ago when she first joined as a Dental Assistant. It wasn’t long before she moved into a Health Worker role where she enjoyed 13 years working alongside a team who shared her passion for Indigenous health.

After nine years away from Nganampa Health living and working in Ceduna as an antenatal health worker, Lee made the decision to return in 2013, having seen one of our jobs advertised on Facebook! Since then, she has continued her vital work as a health worker and is continuing to grow through further education.

“There is so much that I’ve gained and learned. I’m now close to finishing my Bachelor of Nursing through Deakin University, which will add to the qualifications in primary health care I already have.”

For Lee, it was the unique combination of the environment, role, team and learning that brought her back to Nganampa Health. The chance to work in a role that allows for diversity on a daily basis is something she loves most about her job - and is what helped her in other roles.  

“My role covers almost everything. That’s what I really enjoy! From adult and child health checks to working in one of the many programs we run. There is a lot to experience here at Nganampa Health.”

“In the antenatal clinic I worked in during my time away from Nganampa Health, the health workers took a lead role and ran programs. The experience and knowledge I’d gained at Nganampa Health definitely prepared me for this. The skills you gain working remotely, you can take anywhere.”

Lee currently works within the Smoking Cessation Program which sees her support local Anangu people in the community to quit smoking and live healthier lives. It’s a program which she strongly believes in and one that brings her so much reward. Lee is always proud to see people achieve goals and to improve their - and their family’s - health and wellbeing.

“Success is many things, but in my role it’s people coming in and quitting smoking. The team provides patients with so much information around good habits and how they impact their family. We also follow up every six weeks with people who have managed to quit to ensure they have continued support. Seeing people become healthy is a good feeling, absolutely. It’s a very rewarding position to be in. I really enjoy achieving positive outcomes with a great team.”

Beyond the dedicated team of health workers, nurses, doctors and specialists with whom she works, Lee loves the environment and the lifestyle on the APY Lands. She’s also the Coach of the Wintjalangu Softball team, who have won the last four Far North West Sports League Grand Finals in a row!

“I find people assume it’s red, flat and dry out here, but it’s not! I love this country and the people. It’s beautiful in this area. You can’t beat the fresh air and no traffic! After moving to Ceduna, I found I was constantly missing the lifestyle I had here and the strong community feel.”

According to Lee, commitment, resilience and motivation to work hard are must-haves for people considering joining the community and team at Nganampa Health. They are non-negotiable traits that are essential in successfully overcoming any challenges faced in the role.

“We do have challenges; any role does.  We want to help the entire community but we can’t always do that - not everyone turns up to their appointments. You try hard to get some people to return to the clinic but you can’t achieve this every time. That’s where resilience and motivation are important.”

With Lee’s nursing studies nearing completion, her future is bright. Looking ahead, she’s excited to continue on her journey with the team and achieve vital change for the community.

“I can see myself staying here for years to come because I love that I get to meet and help people in this role. There are higher rates of illnesses and conditions out here, like diabetes, and being able to help close the gap is very motivating. It feels good to be a part of that change and it’s why I want to stay. It is part of what brought me back here.

I’m looking forward to completing my studies and continuing great work, and seeing more people quit smoking and maintain that new life. I’m excited for what’s to come.”

Meet Fortunate Pemhiwa

Remote Area Nurse

Meet Fortunate Pemhiwa

Remote Area Nurse

After 9 years as a Remote Area Nurse (RAN) with Nganampa Health, Fortunate shares with us the rewards and challenges of working in a remote part of Australia.

With a background in emergency and clinical roles, Fortunate was looking to expand his experience and see more of outback Australia. Having worked in regional locations throughout his nursing career, remote area roles greatly interested him.

“I was attracted to the level of flexibility and diversity offered by RAN positions. Unlike other roles, I have autonomy in the services I provide and I’m not limited to supporting only one particular patient type. With NHC I work with everyone from newborns to the elderly and see all kinds of medical conditions including emergencies, elderly issues, chronic disease as well as the opportunity to provide health advice and disease prevention.”

“The work is never boring. I wouldn’t be able to go back and work in one department dealing with one type of medical condition again. It wouldn’t be challenging enough.”

Speaking of challenges, Fortunate says that he has encountered difficult patients from time to time, as have many health workers across Australia.

“It’s part of the role, and it can be stressful, but I do feel a duty of care to help them, even if they’re uncooperative. Our nursing teams have safety and security protocols in place and if a situation is deemed violent or abusive then we won’t attend. NHC always makes the safety of their employees their number one priority.

Living in a remote area isn’t for everyone. It's isolating to be so far away from civilisation, but NHC offers good leave and return flights each year which works well for me.”

NHC is an Aboriginal-owned and managed health service and this was one of the reasons behind Fortune’s decision to join the organisation.

“The NHC management model isn’t hierarchical. They don’t have the red tape and politics because they have ownership of the service and focus on the needs of the community.”

“I’m lucky to have developed lots of long term friendships with my colleagues. Some of the nursing staff have been here for as long as me, or longer, and that camaraderie and support of my colleagues is something I really enjoy.

We feel like a big team, and as a team we contribute directly to the community and actually make a big difference in the lives of our patients. With NHC I feel like my opinion is heard, my input valued and work is like my favourite hobby that I do every day.”

Meet Marg James

Personal Care Attendant

Meet Marg James

Personal Care Attendant

Beginning her career as a relief Personal Care Attendant with Ngnanampa Health’s Aged Care Facility, Marg James has enjoyed over seven years with the organisation and can’t imagine going anywhere else.

“I have friends who work for other organisations and it’s nothing like Ngnanampa Health. Their conditions aren’t as good. We get paid more money, have excellent housing and nice meals while we’re working, and recreational leave every 12 weeks, which is a massive bonus.”

Perhaps more importantly, Marg reports that the workplace culture is second to none. “The people at NHC all have a positive and optimistic ‘give it a go’ attitude that’s so important for remote area communities. Everyone is invested in helping the people of the lands and doing their bit to make a difference.”

“There’s nothing I don’t like about the role. I’m there to care for the patients and I just get stuck in. It’s a hard job but teamwork and the fantastic support from management make it so worthwhile.

Nganampa Health is the most wonderful company. In other organisations you’re always pushing management for the things you need and they never deliver, but here we put our patients’ priorities first and the staff get what they need to make everyone’s lives better.”

“I’ve made some very close friendships during my time here. I have even travelled with my colleagues during our holidays and we socialise as a team occasionally, when our shifts allow. My friends are one of the reasons I enjoy my job so much.”

Marg says she’s always encouraging people to apply to work with NHC. “I love my job and NHC is one of the most friendly and generous companies you could ever ask for.”