Working in a remote Aboriginal community: Linda’s story

Linda Cornwall

Linda Cornwall recently completed a three-week placement as a Personal Care Worker in the remote Aboriginal community of Oak Valley, situated 1300 km northwest of Adelaide in the Maralinga Tjarutja Aboriginal Council Local Government Area.

Originating from Brisbane, her journey involved flights to Adelaide and Ceduna, followed by an 8-hour ride on the weekly supply truck, a vital lifeline for the region.

Linda’s responsibilities extended beyond the conventional, encompassing the provision of meals and home cleaning for five clients. This included the preparation of weekend food packs with eggs, tinned food, and Kangaroo Tail – a delicacy in high demand!

The transient community – initially around 40 individuals – fluctuated to 30 during Linda’s stay. The community of Oak Valley has essential services, including a school, youth centre, and clinic staffed by an RN and an RN manager.

This marked Linda’s first venture into a remote community, although she had worked in Alice Springs and numerous less remote placements with both the Rural Locum Assistance Program (Rural LAP) and other agencies.

Cultural adaptation was facilitated by training from local staff, who helped explain the best approach to certain situations such as needing to involve a man from the same tribe when someone needed to be lifted.

Language wasn’t a problem given most people spoke enough English to get by, although Linda chose to receive some instruction from one of the community members.

“Everyone is so friendly and appreciate that you are there to help. They don’t get a lot of visitors and they made me feel so welcome, including when I arrived and everyone came out to greet the supply truck”

Linda Cornwall

Observing the community’s deep respect for animals, Linda noted the constant provision of food and water, despite what looked like the dogs and other animals roaming free.

Linda cited the absence of drugs and alcohol (Dry) in the area as a preferable atmosphere to work in and that there was a ‘real sense of community’ that embraced her.

“I’d recommend such a placement to anyone considering it and am hoping to return in the new year. Perhaps this time I’ll get a chance to sample the Kangaroo Tail on the weekend,” Linda added.

Linda spoke about the unwavering support from Rural LAP and the sense of being cared for during her placements, with regular check-ins and attention to detail in the provision of transport, accommodation and communication.

For those wishing to undertake such a placement, Linda highlighted the importance of being able to embrace new experiences.

Sponsored by Rural LAP

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