2009 Annual Report 2009

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					2009 Annual Report
Farewell From Heather Kelly
                           Half way through 2009 my work                When the School of Rural Health ‘liaison’ position came up
                           arrangements changed and I was               I jumped at the opportunity as I felt I already knew most of
                           unable to continue with my official          what happened in WILDFIRE and I was already familiar with
                           role with WILDFIRE.                          NRHSN because I’d been a Victorian representative on their
                                                                        working party to develop the first RHSV kit. Little did I know
                          I began hearing about WILDFIRE                how steep the learning curve with WILDFIRE was going to
                          when it was formed as the Monash              be! WILDFIRE is much more that RHSVs and NRHSN. After
                          University Rural Practice Association         the daunting task of rewriting the constitution, seeing the first
                          (MURPA). Later, when I was involved           Council established, and being involved in many other tasks I
                          in promoting health careers for               feel I now have a reasonable understanding of the WILDFIRE
                          secondary school students, I had              machine. Just in time to hand it all on.... go Teresa!
dealings with each WILDFIRE committee (based at Clayton),
either assisting with Rural High School Visits (RHSVs) that             There are many students with whom I have had a long
sometimes occurred with OUTLOOK, and/or organising                      association and many students that I have never met but I’ve
speakers and helpers for various state-wide career                      emailed them often. There are many of you to whom I owe a
promotion activities involving secondary school students.               great deal as you taught me heaps. THANK YOU.
In the early part of this decade I worked with WILDFIRE                 Walking into my local GP clinic recently I think says it all. As I
students (plus those from MARHS, OUTLOOK and LARHC)                     walked in I saw at the reception desk the profiles and photos
who were leaders, speakers and/or campus guides at the                  of the ‘new’ doctors and I recognised three names. One was
workshops we organised for secondary students. I also had               an original participant in the first Year 12 residential workshop
the good fortune to be able to employ lots of very capable              we held at the YWCA (the ‘Y’) hotel in Melbourne in 1997.
administrators from the WILDFIRE members who spent their                The other two were more recent graduates; one said ‘hi’ as
first clinical year at Traralgon. Organising the secondary              I walked towards her, she has had a long and distinguished
student workshops, with the assistance of so many tertiary              WILDFIRE ‘career’. The third was the one I was scheduled to
students from many health disciplines, really demonstrated              see. She didn’t recognise me as I sat down in the consulting
to me the energy, enthusiasm and benefit of multi-disciplinary          room but all I had to do was show her my WILDFIRE lanyard
teams, and the power and value of mentoring and role                    and that was enough, it was really good to be able to chat
modelling. I wish I could name you all but I trust many of you          with someone with whom I was familiar. The reason why we
are on Teresa’s distribution list so you know who you are               do the jobs we do....
when you read this.
                                                                        Heather Kelly
                                                                        WILDFIRE / School of Rural Health Liaison

                                                                                                  Thank You Heather!
                                                                                                  Although Heather has resigned her
                                                                                                  position with WILDFIRE, she has still
                                                                                                  availed herself whenever we have
                                                                                                  sought her advice or guidance with
                                                                                                  any WILDFIRE matters.
                                                                                                  Thank you Heather for your patience
                                                                                                  and support, I really appreciate it.
                                                                                                  Teresa Neale
                                                                                                  WILDFIRE Administrator
Right to left: Heather Kelly, Rose Gilby, Associate Professor Marlene
Drysdale and Teresa Neale.
                                                                        Now Read On ...
                                                                        2009 continued to be an eventful year for WILDFIRE.
                                                                        The great work done by the WILDFIRE Council and sub-
                                                                        committees throughout Victoria continued.
                                                                        Congratulations to everyone on another fabulous year of
                                                                        activities and enthusiasm.
                                                                        Heather Kelly and Teresa Neale
WILDFIRE Council President Report .........................................................................2
WILDFIRE Council Vice-President’s Report ...............................................................3
WILDFIRE Council Treasurer’s Report .......................................................................4
NRHSN Representatives’ Report ..............................................................................5
Matthew Campbell Memorial Evening Report ..........................................................6
National University Rural Health Conference (NURHC) ..............................................8
Vibe Alive (Mildura) – Indigenous Festival Report .....................................................10
WILDFIRE Council Alpine Medical Trip ....................................................................11
WILDFIRE Bendigo subcommittee ..........................................................................12
WILDFIRE Gippsland subcommittee Report ...........................................................13
WILDFIRE Clayton subcommittee Report ...............................................................14
WILDFIRE Clayton subcommittee Country Hoe Down and CFA Fundraiser.............15
WILDFIRE Clayton subcommittee Clinical Skills Weekend, Traralgon ......................16
WILDFIRE Clayton subcommittee – Open Mic Night ...............................................17
WILDFIRE Clayton subcommittee – Annual Dinner..................................................18
WILDFIRE Clayton subcommittee – RWAV Shield .................................................18
WILDFIRE Clayton subcommittee ‘Get Plastered’ ...................................................19
WILDFIRE East Gippsland subcommittee – Annual Report .....................................20
WILDFIRE Mildura subcommittee – Annual Report .................................................21
WILDFIRE Parkville subcommittee – Annual Report ................................................22
WILDFIRE Grant Report .........................................................................................23
WILDFIRE Life Memberships ..................................................................................27
2009 WILDFIRE Council .........................................................................................29

                                                                                                   WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009 | 1
WILDFIRE Council President Report
                          2009 has been a year of great          WILDFIRE’s community involvement continued to grow
                          progress for WILDFIRE. In its second   in 2009. Fundraising efforts for the Victorian Bushfire
                          year after the introduction of the     Appeal were supported by many members attending
                          Council and seven subcommittees        events such as trivia nights and bush dances organised
                          the club has grown to better           by various subcommittees. Rural High School Visits have
                          represent students at rural clinical   been conducted across the state educating rural students
                          schools and to foster interest in      about the opportunities there are to study health disciplines.
                          rural and Indigenous health at both    WILDFIRE participated in Vibe Alive which was held in
                          metropolitan and rural campuses        Mildura – an event aiming to support Indigenous students
                          and clinical schools.                  in making career choices. Thank you to all of the WILDFIRE
                                                                 members whose participation made all of these possible.
The 2009 Council aimed to address the challenges identified
by the outgoing Council of 2008. These revolved around           There were many exciting events hosted by the
the fostering of communication between the Council and its       subcommittees this year. Parkville held the Rural Road Trip
subcommittees and resolving areas where communication            for Pharmacy students, Churchill and East Gippsland hosted
break-down could occur. Ensuring ongoing communication           an Allied Health Ball, Get Plastered, a trivia night and many
between students at over seven campuses and clinical             other events. With the introduction of the Extended Rural
schools across multiple health disciplines is no mean feat,      Cohort in Bendigo and Mildura, both of these subcommittee
especially when many of the students have never met!             were highly active in their clinical schools and communities
Numerous teleconferences, email discussions and face to          holding events such as Trivia Fundraisers, ‘Christmas
face meetings have been attended over the year by many           in July’, Bendigo Ball, BBQ’s and lawn bowls evenings.
students. I am proud to say that the communication links         The Bendigo subcommittee also included students from
between students are strengthening, a process which will         Melbourne University based at the Bendigo Rural Clinical
hopefully continue into the future. Thank you to the many        School. It is hoped that in the future the Melbourne University
subcommittee representatives for their stellar efforts across    Rural Health Club may provide support for their students
the year!                                                        in Bendigo. Clayton once again did a fantastic job hosting
                                                                 Get Plastered, Dairy Day, BBQ’s, a camping trip, assisting at
Orientation week on the various campuses was a huge              MCME, participating in Rural High School Visits, attending
success with events such as MedFest, Get Plastered and           enrolment days the transition camp and holding the
Dairy Day introducing students to the Club. Four hundred         RWAV Shield.
and twenty students signed-up as members for 2009
encompassing many courses including Medicine, Pharmacy,          2009 saw the return of Laura Major, Manager, Rural
Nursing, Physiotherapy, Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine,       Education, from extended maternity leave as she
Occupational Therapy, Psychology and Biomedical                  commenced a job-share arrangement with Carolyn Vaughan
Science. Events were held in and around Clayton, Parkville,      who joined the team in 2008. They have both continued to
Bendigo, Mildura, Churchill and East Gippsland. The              support and guide WILDFIRE throughout the year.
Clayton subcommittee were once again commendable for
their participation in numerous enrolment days, information      We said goodbye to Heather Kelly – thank you, we wish you
sessions and the medicine transition camp – all of which         the best for the future. Thank you also to all of the staff at
took place during holiday time.                                  the Regional Clinical Schools who have been supports for
                                                                 the subcommittee representatives – it is greatly appreciated.
The 15th Annual Matthew Campbell Memorial Evening                Last but certainly not least, a big thank you once again to
(MCME) was a memorable night. The auditorium of South            Teresa Neale, without whom without WILDFIRE would not
One was filled with past and present WILDFIRE members            function. Thank you also to our many sponsors, without your
who listened to enlightening speakers including The Hon          support many WILDFIRE events would not be possible.
Dr Brendan Nelson, Louis Peachey, Ngaire Brown and
Tim Steele. Students and staff left the night with a better      I would like to thank the Council of 2009 and commend
understanding of the challenges facing both the health           their tremendous efforts. It has been a fantastic, fun-filled
workforce and the members of the rural and Indigenous            year and I believe that the Council achieved the goals that
communities of Australia.                                        it set WILDFIRE at the commencement of its term. None
                                                                 of this would have been achieved without the consistent
The first WILDFIRE Alpine Medical Trip was organised for         communication, email checking, numerous phone calls and
second semester and was a huge success thoroughly                long drives to attend events and meetings. I wish the 2010
enjoyed by the 40 students who descended upon Mount              Council the best of luck and hope that WILDFIRE grows
Buller for the day. Thank you to the NRHSN for their extra       stronger into the future.
pool funding which made this event possible.
                                                                 Rachael Purcell (Year 3 MBBS)

2 | WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009
WILDFIRE Council Vice-President’s Report
                       Another year has gone by and             2009 also heralded the 15th Anniversary of the Matthew
                       WILDFIRE continues. I know I state       Campbell Memorial Evening (MCME). The night was a
                       the obvious, but the success of          phenomenal success thanks to Catherine Pendrey and Freya
                       our club is only due to the support      Langham. Speakers included the Hon Dr Brendan Nelson,
                       shown by the students, staff             who spoke at the first Aboriginal Health evening organised
                       and sponsors. This report is             by Matthew (“Teddy”) Campbell, Dr Louis Peachey,
                       not a summary of some of                 Associate Professor Ngiare Brown and Dr Tim Steele.
                       the many events throughout               Each year our members are exposed to stories from a
                       the year, but a thank you to             variety of individuals about their experiences in Indigenous
                       all of you who have dedicated            health. It was a truly remarkable night which inspired
your time and energy to ensure WILDFIRE’s continued             our member’s dedication to the continued promotion of
presence at Monash University.                                  health issues effecting Indigenous Australians. I would also
                                                                encourage everyone to get a copy of the commemorative
This was the second year since the restructuring of             booklet of the history and speeches of the MCME.
WILDFIRE which saw the election of a Council to assist
in the management of the subcommittees. Unlike many             WILDFIRE was well represented nationally at the 2009
other clubs, WILDFIRE faces the challenge of representing       National Rural Health Students’ Network Conference
and engaging with students at different Monash campuses         in Cairns. The annual event brings together students
and clinical schools. I am pleased that although given          from around Australia to share their enthusiasm for the
this obstacle, our subcommittees continue to strive to          promotion of health issues effected Australians in rural and
organise events for all our members. The WILDFIRE Alpine        remote regions of Australia. The members who attended
Medical Trip, organised by Katrina De Marco, is one such        passionately displayed WILDFIRE’s commitment to these
successful example. The day saw members from different          issues, and I would like to congratulate the WILDFIRE
subcommittees come together to learn about the challenges       members who presented at the conference. Another exciting
healthcare workers face in an isolated area which face          development was the construction of a committee to
seasonal population growth.                                     oversee the development of a Victoria interclub event,
                                                                like the Rural Appreciation Weekend (RAW) held in New
WILDFIRE presence at orientation week was felt strongly         South Wales. This will hopefully become another annual
in 2009 at the various Monash campuses. The Clayton             event and I hope the WILDFIRE members on the organising
subcommittee, led by Nicola Rodd, Gemma Lay from                team, Josh De Bono and Jan Fletcher, enjoy the experience.
Parkville, and the Gippsland subcommittee driven by
Jet Driver and Stephanie Walton, enthusiastically ensured       When I look back at my six years at Monash University,
new students where soon familiar with WILDFIRE.                 WILDFIRE has always featured prominently in my memories.
Get Plastered, a well known WILDFIRE tradition, was for         WILDFIRE will always for me be a valuable organisation of
the second year, run both in Melbourne and Gippsland.           students willing to sacrifice their time to promote the health
This expansion of WILDFIRE traditions throughout the            issues facing Indigenous Australians and all Australians
Monash campuses is an exciting step forward in ensuring         living in rural and remote areas. I wish the 2010 Council
the club’s continued presence. In addition to events at         and subcommittees the very best.
Monash campuses, Clinical Skills Days at Monash teaching
hospitals were resurrected in large part thanks to John Clark   Aaron Wiggins (Year 5 MBBS)
of the Clayton subcommittee.

                                                                                                 WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009 | 3
WILDFIRE Council Treasurer’s Report
                         2009 has proven to be yet another      central at Clayton with a separate budget created for Rural
                         exciting and rewarding year for        High School Visits and overseen by Council. The Council
                         WILDFIRE! Our rural health club has    additionally managed grants and club development with
                         continued to develop and expand        the subcommittees supervising local events and student
                         throughout many facets and of          support. All expenditure was passed by WILDFIRE
                         particular note financially.           committee members in accordance with the RUSC
                                                                guidelines and club objectives.
                          I am happy to report that from a
                          Treasurer’s point of view this year   Once again, liaison between the subcommittee treasurers
                          has been incredibly successful. All   was paramount. They all did a remarkable job in remaining
                          WILDFIRE events and activities have   accountable for expenditure throughout the year with
continued to grow and when comparing to previous years,         biannual reports and the introduction of Event Proposal
2009 has brought about many positive financial outcomes.        Forms. As you will see from the subcommittee reports,
This included having more money available and a greater         they have all had an amazing year spending their budgets
utilisation of funds by all of WILDFIRE, despite lowering our   on their many exciting events.
membership fee by half.
                                                                A special note must be made in thanking Teresa Neale
Again our major sources of funding for 2009 were the Rural      for her invaluable support and endless assistance this year!
Undergraduate Support and Co-ordination (RUSC) Program,         Thanks must also go to the entire WILDFIRE Council and
membership fees and sponsorship. The funds were used for        subcommittee Treasurers for helping in continuing
a variety of events and initiatives including student grants,   to strengthen the club financially.
allied health events, WILDFIRE publications and many
student events with a focus on rural health.                    Congratulations to everyone involved with WILDFIRE
                                                                this year and I’d like to wish everyone success for
Continuing on with the new Council model, a few alterations     2010, especially the new treasurers for each
of how the money was distributed were made, meaning             WILDFIRE subcommittee.
all subcommittees had easier access to their funds.
The Council and Clayton subcommittee budgets remained           Melissa Fitzgerald (Year 3 MBBS)

                                                                                          Aaron Wiggins and Melissa Fitzgerald

4 | WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009
NRHSN Representatives’ Report
                                                               They achieve this through locally based activities at
                                                               rural health clubs (such as WILDFIRE), as well as at
                                                               a national level.
                                                               This year, the NRHSN and RHINO (James Cook University
                                                               RHC) hosted the National University Rural Health Conference
                                                               (NURHC), in Cairns, QLD on 23–25 July. The conference
                                                               motto ‘Diverse Landscapes, Endless Opportunities’
                                                               fitted aptly, as the conference focused on attracting and
                                                               retaining students and newly graduated health and medical
                                                               professionals to practice in rural and remote Australia.
First established in 1996, the National Rural Health           The conference was attended by over 450 delegates,
Student’s Network (NRHSN) represents 29 Rural Health           including an impressive 14 WILDFIRE members, who
Clubs (RHCS) located at Universities across Australia.         represented disciplines from medical, allied health, dentistry
It is a multidisciplinary network representing over 7500       and nursing, along with key rural health organisations and
medical, nursing, dentistry and allied health students         health professionals. WILDFIRE was fortunate to receive
nationally, all of whom share a common interest in rural       enough funding to support the 14 members who attended
and remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.   the conference. Not only was it an inspiring experience, but
                                                               a fantastic opportunity to network with other health students
www.nrhsn.org.au                                               from across Australia.
                                                               WILDFIRE was successfully granted two ‘Additional Pool
                                                               of Funding’ Grants from the NRHSN this year. The first grant
    NRHSN Vision:                                              was allocated to the WILDFIRE Alpine Medical Trip, and the
                                                               second grant of $3000 (shared with other RHC) is to be
    To be a peak body that harnesses                           allocated to VIGOUR 2010.
    the passion of health students                             The NRHSN provides access to many other invaluable
    through representation, networking,                        learning resources and opportunities including:
    professional development and initiatives                   •   Conference funding
    to increase the health workforce and                       •   Rural High School Visits
    health outcomes of rural and
                                                               •   Indigenous Community Festival Attendance
    remote Australians.                                            (e.g. Mildura VibeAlive)
                                                               •   Medical Equipment
The NRHSN established the following objectives, aiming to
                                                               •   Networking opportunities
provide access to support, opportunities and information,
promoting equality and future health careers:                  •   Newsletters and Publications (e.g. Cooee,
• To increase the number of health graduates who                   Mental Health Guide, Rural Placements Guide)
    choose to practice in rural and remote Australia;          •   Scholarship information and
•    To act as the voice of health students for rural          •   Social functions.
     and remote issues;
                                                               Congratulations to the WILDFIRE Council and
•    To generate greater exposure and presence for             subcommittees of 2009 for their dedication and
     the NRHSN;                                                hard work throughout the year.
•    Provide on-going and sustained support and                Samantha Buchholz (Year 5 MBBS) and Margot Lodge
     opportunities for health students considering rural       (Year 4 MBBS)
     and remote careers; and
•    To professionalise and optimse operations of
     the NRHSN.

                                                                                                 WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009 | 5
Matthew Campbell Memorial Evening report
                          The 15th Annual Matthew                 Dr Louis Peachey a Fellow of the Australian College for
                          Campbell Memorial Evening               Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and medical educator
                          Closing the Gap 1994-2009:              from Mt Isa, renewed belief in radical progress that may
                          The story so far in Indigenous Health   be achieved by respecting the humanity of all our fellow
                                                                  beings. The founding President of the Australian Indigenous
                          On Friday 3 April almost 300            Doctors’ Association (AIDA) and former President of the
                          students of health sciences and         Pacific Region Indigenous Doctors Congress shared his own
                          members of the wider community          story, to empower the audience with knowledge that we may
                          came together at Monash University      all transform lives, by simply giving people their deserved
                          Clayton campus for the 15th Annual      respect, and together Close the Gap within a generation.
                          Matthew Campbell Memorial
                          Evening (MCME).                         Associate Professor Ngiare Brown, former Indigenous Health
                                                                  Advisor to the AMA and Foundation CEO of the Australian
To mark the 15th Anniversary this year’s theme was “Closing       Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA), infused the evening
the Gap 1994-2009: The story so far in Indigenous Health”.        with deep spirituality and strength of conviction that all may
It was a poignant occasion for many of those who had              become agents of change to advance social justice and
shared history with the event. Together we reflected on the       health. With great humility to the land, Associate Professor
progress, policies, lessons, and human stories of the past 15     Brown described her own determined efforts to Close the
years in Indigenous Health and looked to the future, guided       Gap through medical education, policy and research, with
by those who have previously addressed a MCME.                    a focus on human rights law, public health and the need for
                                                                  Constitutional reform.
You can hear part or all of the thought provoking and
challenging addresses, including question time, at the            Dr Timothy Steele is an Ophthalmology registrar who spoke
WILDFIRE website! Visit www.med.monash.edu/wildfire.              at the MCME in ’95, was the organiser ’96 and ’97, and has
The inaugural Matthew Campbell Memorial Evening living            worked in Indigenous communities as a student and junior
archive is also NOW AVAILABLE. It traces the 15 year              doctor. Dr Steele shared his experiences of the rewards,
history of the event, from the first Indigenous Health Forum      challenges and cultural differences working in an Indigenous
organised by Matthew Campbell and Annette Sanders; to             health setting. He thus, opened minds to the possibility of
the first Memorial Evening; and how the story has continued       working in Indigenous health and other means by which we
to unfold. Contact Teresa.neale@monash.edu to                     may work to Close the Gap.
request a copy.
                                                                  The event was non-profit and donations were collected on
Each speaker shared their knowledge and experience                the night for ‘Close the Gap,’ Australia’s largest campaign
to create an evening that engaged and motivated, with             to improve Indigenous Health. The success of the evening
insightful exploration of diverse perspectives and issues.        was embodied during question time, as the audience of
The Hon Dr Brendan Nelson, former Leader of the                   300 challenged speakers, explored deep complexities,
Parliamentary Liberal Party, urged the audience of present        and further espoused the evening’s tone of hope.
and future leaders to use all positions and power that they
have and will possess to advance Indigenous Australia.            Many thanks to all the sponsors whose support allowed the
Dr Nelson returned in 2009 after, as the President of the         evening to take place: Health Super, VicNet, RWAV, Vic Felix
Australian Medical Association (AMA), he had spoken at the        and the Monash School of Rural Health.
first Indigenous health seminar organised by Matthew and
Annette. He gave great personal insight into events many
had seen unfold publicly and his own sources of inspiration.

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6 | WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009
Indigenous Health At The Global
                                                                                        13   14
Health Conference
The Australian Medical Students Association (AMSA) Global
Health Conference (GHC) is an annual gathering of medical
students from Australia and the Asia Pacific who come to
learn all about global and developmental health, including
many issues relating to rural, remote and Indigenous
communities. This year’s conference was held in Brisbane
and Indigenous health featured as a prominent theme.
Former Young Australian of the Year Tania Major gave a                                  15   16
frank and open critique of the Northern Territory Intervention
and an insightful comparison to the Noel Pearson
engineered Cape York Partnerships.
Gabi Hollows presented on the inside story of the Fred
Hollows Foundation and an Indigenous panel delved
further into the rich complexities of Indigenous health.
Students also had the option to attend workshops on
Indigenous health that focussed on topics such as child
and maternal health and cross cultural communication.
                                                                                        17   18
Look out for GHC 2010 in Tasmania.
Catherine Pendrey (Year 3 MMBS) and
Freya Langham (Year 2 MBBS)
1	     Dr	Louis	Peachey
2	     The	Hon	Dr	Brendan	Nelson
3	     Freya	Langham,	Catherine	Pendrey,	The	Hon	Dr	Brendan	Nelson	
       and	Rachael	Purcell
4	     Stefanie	Pender	and	Nicola	Rodd
5	     Mrs	Christine	Campbell
6	     Catherine	Pendrey                                                                19   20
7	     Cameron	Sharp,	Chris	Williames	and	Ken	Yee
8	     Robyn	Collins,	Isabel	Ellender,	Associate	Professor	Marlene	Drysdale		
       and	Liz	Wyatt
9	     Kate	Collins,	Jan	Fletcher,	Fran	Crotty,	Cameron	Sharp,	Chris	Williames,	Kate	
       Avery	and	Michelle	Chapman
10	    Peter	Taylor,	Adam	Sutton	and	Margot	Lodge	
11	    Jan	Fletcher	and	Pete	Verbeek
12	    Rachael	Purcell	and	Aaron	Wiggins
13	    The	Hon	Dr	Brendan	Nelson,	Christine	and	Noel	Campbell
14	    Katrina	De	Marco	and	Sam	Buchholz
15	    Alex	Bongers	and	Gemma	Lay
16	    Angela	La	Macchia	and	Annie	Kilpatrick
                                                                                        21   22
17	    Merinda	Miles,	Jessica	Nash,	Ashleigh	Witt	and	Stephanie	Pender
18	    Heather	Kelly,	Teresa	Neale	and	Carolyn	Vaughan
19	    The	Hon	Dr	Brendan	Nelson	and	Teresa	Neale
20	    Dr	Timothy	Steele,	Associate	Professor	Ngiare	Brown	and		
       Dr	Louis	Peachey
21	    Emma	Pappalardo	and	John	Clark
22	    Tim	Wittick	with	his	Dad
23-26	 Thank	you	to	our	sponsors:	Health	Super,	VicNet,	RWAV	and	VicFelix

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11                                           12                                         25   26

                                                                                              WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009 | 7
National University Rural Health Conference (NURHC)
Reflections from students who attended – John Clark, Josh
De Bono, Gemma Lay, Xavier O’Kane, Lee Skeat

John Clark (Year 2 MBBS)
The theme for the National University Rural Health
Conference (NURHC) 2009 was ‘Diverse Landscapes,
Endless Opportunities’ and nothing can more aptly describe
our trip to Cairns this year. We left Melbourne on an
overcast, cold day but within a few hours found ourselves
in sunny Cairns in, a few layers of clothing less than we
departed. This was the start of a busy mix of networking,
learning and professional development which still has us
spinning since we have got back to Clayton.
A big part of the learning experience I had at the conference
was finding out what ‘rural’ and ‘remote’ actually mean.
As a country student, I realise ‘rural’ is often synonymous
with a lack of medical services and healthcare professionals,
however, I discovered some other interpretations of the
terms. One suggestion during a plenary was that rural and        With all of this excitement, we have been brought back to
remote are classified by ‘Maccas index’; that is, if you can     reality in week three of semester at university. However, the
drive (but not walk) to a McDonald’s restaurant, you are         conference has made an impact on the plans I make for
in a rural area...but if you need to drive more than 40km        the future. I have met a number of students from other rural
you are remote! Whilst McDonalds is not (debatably) a vital      health clubs, and WILDFIRE will be making links through
service to the community, the distance to services has a         these connections in the future. I have also walked away
major impact on how health is delivered. On a visit to the       with a greater understanding of the National Rural Health
Royal Flying Doctors’ Service, I realised that many of the       Students’ Network (NRHSN) and how we as students can
services provided to isolated communities are with the aid       make a change on a local level. Next year I hope to become
of volunteers and donations, since the current structure         further involved in the NRHSN and will bring new ideas and
of the healthcare system does not meet the needs, in fact        enthusiasm to the Monash Rural Health front.
the physical location of these people. The way in which
healthcare is delivered is also integral to the outcomes         Gemma Lay (Year 4 BPharm)
to populations. For instance, approximately half of the          Hey! I’m Gemma and I’m a final year Pharmacy student.
Australian Indigenous population smoke, which significantly      I’m also the IT Rep on the WILDFIRE Council. I was fortunate
places their people at risk of significant health problems and   enough to be selected to attend NURHC 2009 and was the
reduces their life expectancy by several years. With the best    only non-med student from WILDFIRE to attend.
intentions of ‘Closing the Gap’ the Australian Government is
spending significant amounts of money on health promotion        After having an amazing time at NURHC 2008 in
and interventions based on an evidence-based-medicine            Launceston, I knew I had to find a way to go again – so I
approach to healthcare. Even with this funding however,          decided to submit an abstract for a student presentation.
healthcare workers have little, if not any, cultural training    Luckily for me, my abstract was one of 40 or so selected
in communicating with Indigenous people. Therefore the           and I was heading to NURHC 2009!
services provided are rendered ineffective to the Indigenous     The next month or so was spent working on my
people because they are not delivered in a way that is           presentation. It was entitled ‘Compulsory Rural Pharmacy
culturally appropriate. Ideas such as these were expressed       Placements – What do Students Really Think?’ and involved
by students, teachers and healthcare professionals               interviewing several pharmacy students to find out what
throughout the conference and had a big impact on                they thought of their rural placement and whether it would
me in the way I think about rural medicine.                      encourage them to go rural after graduation. Getting the
One of the exciting opportunities Nicola Rodd, WILDFIRE          information I needed was made difficult by placements and
Clayton President, and I had was to present at the               attending another conference, but the NRHSN were happy
conference as well. Our topic was on the Vibe Alive festival.    to extend the deadline if you requested it.
This event is held annually around the country for Australian    Then came exams, holidays, the first two days of second
and Torres Strait Islander children and we participated in       semester and finally it was time to fly to Cairns. Wednesday
the festival with other Monash students in Mildura last year.    and Thursday passed fairly quickly and involved meeting
It was an absolute privilege to share our experiences with       new people, enjoying the sun, going out and of course,
other students across the country, who all had their own         the first day of the conference. Friday morning was another
stories to tell. This experience provided us the chance to       whole conference session, then the concurrent student
consider ourselves as part of the rural health revolution and    presentations. Up until this point I’d been excited about
represent Monash University as leaders of the future.

8 | WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009
giving my presentation, but then nerves set in – which wasn’t       students as well as other health professionals attending
helped by a room swap – I was now to give my presentation           the conference. A BBQ was held on the first night in a
in the main auditorium. Despite this, I was determined to get       casual setting that enabled everyone to mingle and discuss
up there, share what I’d learned and have fun. There were           the difference between University courses and learning
two blocks of student presentations and my presentation             approaches. On the Thursday evening a dinner was held
was the last in the second block – so I had a chance to see         at the Brother’s League Conference centre and students
other presentations before giving my own. All too soon,             were involved with the Golden Windmills Dance, which was
it was time for me to take the stage.                               a nice way to embrace the rural spirit of the event. The final
                                                                    evening included a dinner at the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural
My presentation ran smoothly and I was really happy with            Park which was a very moving and appropriate setting for
everything. It was informative, but not too serious and it fitted   the conclusion of the conference. These social events were
in well with the storytelling theme that seemed to run through      a great deal of fun but I also met a number of other students
the conference. This year they judged the presentations.            who have provided a basis for my future professional
Out of the seven presentations in the scientific stream,            network. I also had the opportunity to speak with a number
the judge awarded the winner and two honorable mentions.            of health club leaders and doctors who have given me advice
I received one of the honorable mentions- not too bad               about direction and future opportunities in my medical career.
for my first conference presentation. Presenting at a
student conference such as NURHC is a great way to                  Joshua De Bono (Year A GMS)
gain confidence and I definitely hope to present at other           In July of this year, I was lucky enough, supported by
conferences in the future.                                          my university rural health club, WILDFIRE, to be given the
I’d highly recommend attending NURHC to any student                 opportunity to attend the National University Rural Health
interested in rural health – especially the allied health           Conference (NURHC). Sponsored by the Commonwealth
students. NURHC 2009 had a more multidisciplinary focus             Department of Health and Ageing, the conference, held in
than NURHC 2008 (which was very med-focused) and as the             Cairns, catered for students from across the country
NRHSN are huge on multi-d, this will continue in the future.        studying within a health field, and with some interest
I’d also encourage anyone who wants to attend NURHC to              in rural and remote health.
submit an abstract and give a presentation. There will always       I have grown up in Gippsland, country Victoria, moved to
be someone interested in what you have to say and it’s a            Melbourne in order to undertake my undergraduate degree
great way to gain confidence.                                       in Biomedical Science and have now moved back to
Lee Skeat (Year 2 MBBS)                                             Gippsland to study medicine. With my background, I thought
                                                                    that I would have a bit of an idea about rural practice,
The student delegates at the NURHC were housed for the              however, I had no idea that there was so much more to learn
duration of the conference at the Cairns Colonial Club, which       before attending NURHC. Three full days of guest speakers
was a very comfortable resort. There were a number of               and workshops covered the many issues surrounding rural
social activities provided by the conference that encouraged        and remote health: the burden of a nationwide shortage of
networking between medical, nursing and allied health               medical and health workers especially within rural areas;
                                                                    the barriers preventing students and professionals from
                                                                    entering the rural/remote workforce, and ways in which
                                                                    to overcome these barriers; incentives to attract students
                                                                    and professionals into rural/remote areas; issues important
                                                                    to communities in rural/remote areas and underprivileged
                                                                    groups including Indigenous Australians.
                                                                    I attended NURHC having a slight interest in perhaps
                                                                    incorporating rural/remote practice into my career, however
                                                                    have now come away from my experience at NURHC with
                                                                    a real urge to promote the importance of rural and remote
                                                                    health to those around me and to definitely incorporate rural/
                                                                    remote medicine into my career and life.

                                                                    Xavier O’kane (Year 5 MBBS)
                                                                    The highlight of my NURHC was definitely the Medical
                                                                    Bonded Dinner on the first evening. I really enjoyed
                                                                    networking with many of my colleagues from various states
                                                                    of Australia, and the dinner was excellent. We also managed
                                                                    to see some of Cairns city that night whilst partying! It was a
                                                                    great way to start the conference considering I didn’t know
                                                                    many people at the start.

                                                                                                      WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009 | 9
Vibe Alive (Mildura) – Indigenous Festival Report
                        In second semester, several of            Overall I felt that the festival was an excellent way to spend
                        the Mildura WILDFIRE members              a day. The children we taught and spoke with were really
                        attended the Vibe Alive festival in       enthusiastic and receptive to our topics. The other medical
                        association with students from            students who came with me also enjoyed their time at the
                        OUTLOOK Rural Health Club (of             festival - so much so that they are planning on making the
                        Melbourne Uni) and NOMAD (of              5.5 hour trek back to Mildura from Melbourne this year.
                        Deakin Uni). Here we taught local         I would highly recommend that WILDFIRE, OUTLOOK
                        children from primary schools with        and NOMAD continue to support Vibe Alive.
                        a high percentage of Indigenous
                        students about nutrition, the need        Joseph O’Brien (Year 2 MBBS)
                        for plenty of exercise and how they
could get involved in healthcare when they finished school.
To start with, there was a morning Q and A session where we
quizzed the kids on the human body and how they felt they
should eat to keep it healthy. Prizes alternated between
freebies from our sponsors and healthy snacks (apples and
bananas). This was followed by an activity where we had
teams of children sort out piles of groceries into healthy and
non-healthy as a race. This activity was fairly popular and
served to teach the kids a fair bit about nutrition (one team
were surprised to find out Dorritos were not healthy, since
they are ‘corn’ chips). Whilst some of the team members
were running, the others were helping reassemble a velcro
skeleton. In the afternoon session we taught them some
basic first aid (with the help of Outlook’s excellent sim-man)
and plastered plenty of (unbroken) arms – much to the
dismay of many local parents, I’m sure. We also
demonstrated on the mannequin how to take bloods,
cannulate and intubate.
This was where our involvement with the festival ended,
but there were many other aspects to it. In the later afternoon
there was a concert put on by some local music artists, and
there were many other displays set up under marquees on
the property where people presented possible careers for
the children. One of these was Rose Gilby, from Monash
University Department of Rural and Indigenous Health,
who had brochures and freebies to hand out to those who
displayed a genuine interest in a healthcare profession.
I have to admit, she was better equipped to answer
questions about the primary care fields and nursing
than us medical students!

10 | WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009
WILDFIRE Council Alpine Medical Trip
                         It was an early winter morning              The clinic manages a wide range of different medical
                         when some very keen WILDFIRE                emergencies and common everyday medical problems.
                         snowboarders and skiers decided             One of the most frequent presentations are skiing or
                         to head to Mt Buller for a field trip!      snowboarding injuries resulting in fractures. The clinic also
                         33 people arrived at the Monash             manages mild concussion to severe head trauma resulting
                         University bus stop at 4 am, ready          in unconsciousness. The clinic also manages common GP
                         for a jam packed day on the snow!           problems that present.
                         After a very quiet and sleepy bus trip      The process of transport from the ski trails to the clinic needs
                         up the mountain we were dressed             to be an effective and efficient method to allow optimal
                         and ready for the snow by 9 am.             management. Local volunteers are allocated as ‘spotters’
                                                                     on the mountain and are usually the first to recognise any
After reaching the top of the mountain we headed to the              problems on the ski field. They then contact the Emergency
Mt Buller Medical Clinic where we were met by one of the             Response Team at Mt Buller who will be responsible for
local GPs who runs the clinic. Dr Phillip Jolly is a rural general   transporting the patients to the clinic. Depending on the
practitioner who has a special interest in Anaesthetics,             triage the patient may be treated in the clinic or stabilised
Alpine Sports Medicine, Disaster Coordination and teaching.          by the local doctor and then transported via ambulance to
He directed us through the clinic for a tour. The clinic is set      Mansfield Local Hospital or to a Melbourne Hospital.
up like a small emergency department, however is only
open during working hours, running five days a week from             The tour was extremely interesting and put medical practice
9 am to 5 pm.                                                        into a completely different context! Dr Jolly gave a very
                                                                     informative discussion on the role of the clinic and answered
At any one time there is one GP, one nurse and one                   many inquisitive questions asked by the students. The clinic
administrative staff present. The clinic operates with limited       also offers elective placements for medical students so keep
bed space with a relatively well resourced resuscitation bay,        that in mind!
however in emergencies faces the difficulty of limited staff
like many other rural sites.                                         The rest of the day was spent on the snow. For the
                                                                     beginners it involved a detailed lesson, and lots of time
The centre has a radiology department, which is a small              recovering from falls and collisions. While the advanced
room located within the clinic. They employ two radiologists         skiers and boarders made the most of the recent snow fall,
throughout the season who are rostered on to take x-rays.            tackling the difficult runs.
This enables fractures to be confirmed in a short time frame
and the treating doctor can than decide on the appropriate           After a long and exhausting day, we departed Mt Buller
management for the patient.                                          at approximately 4:30 pm and headed for the trip home!

                                                                     Katrina De Marco (Year 5 MBBS)

WILDFIRE Council Meeting May 2009
                                                                                             Front row: Alex Bongers, Teresa Neale,
                                                                                             Aaron Wiggins, Rachael Purcell and
                                                                                             Melissa Fitzgerald
                                                                                             Back row: Gemma Lay, Nicola Rodd,
                                                                                             Elyssia Bourke, Cara Fox, Sam Buchholz,
                                                                                             Lana Prout and Margot Lodge

                                                                                                      WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009 | 11
WILDFIRE Bendigo subcommittee
                      2009 was a whirlwind year for the           The other main event of 2009 was the always-popular
                      Bendigo Regional Clinical School,           Bendigo Ball. Occurring in mid October, this event provided
                      witnessing the first Year 3 of the          all medical students and staff in Bendigo the opportunity to
                      Extended Rural Cohort, the first time       let their hair down and celebrate what had been a fantastic
                      postgraduate UoM students were              year. Organised predominantly by Rachelle Smith and Danika
                      integrated into the Monash University       Thiemt, this 1920s themed extravaganza proved to be the
                      program, and the introduction               highlight of a very successful year for the Bendigo
                      of the Bendigo Medical Student              WILDFIRE subcommittee.
                      Association (BMSA) as an official
                      WILDFIRE subcommittee. With                 In addition to these large events, the subcommittee arranged
                      these developments came certain             many smaller functions for WILDFIRE members such as
challenges but these were soon overcome by the energetic          the scrumptious feast that was Christmas in J...August in
and enthusiastic BMSA team.                                       addition to community activities such as school visits and
                                                                  presentations at local Rotary Club meetings.
The year got off to a fantastic start with our first event, the
Allied Health Cocktail Party. This gave Monash medical            Overall, 2009 was a highly successful year for the Bendigo
students a chance to meet and interact with La Trobe              WILDFIRE subcommittee and I would like to thank all of the
University students from other areas of health care including     members of the team for their hard work and dedication
nursing, physiotherapy and pharmacy. Students enjoyed             throughout the year. Bendigo is a beautiful town and I hope
the opportunity to welcome in the new year and celebrated         to spend much more time promoting rural health in this lovely
well into the night, all the while forming new professional       community in the years to come.
relationships that would be built upon throughout the year.       Emma Sim (Year 3 MBBS) and
Our main fundraiser of the year was the Mexican-themed            Georgie Van der Vliet (Year 3 MBBS)
Trivia Night with all proceeds going to the Bendigo Bushfire      Bendigo subcommittee Co-Chairs
Appeal. Impressive prizes ranged from a signed AFL jersey
to sophisticated wine packages and were all organised by
diligent subcommittee members who approached almost
every small business in Bendigo. Approximately 60 people
from many different areas of the Bendigo community
attended this event and were entertained by our enthusiastic
emcees for the evening, Georgie van der Vliet and
Scott Robson.

12 | WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009
WILDFIRE Gippsland subcommittee Report
                        Over 2009, Gippsland’s WILDFIRE          Network (GPSN) made the night more exciting with great
                        bloomed into what can only be            prizes and Lana Prout, always making
                        described as sensational fun! We         for a fun and quick witted evening.
                        were fortunate to have more nursing
                        students involved, and as such some      I think it is fair to say that the highlight of the year was
                        of our members were lucky to go to       the Masquerade Ball at the Traralgon Vineyard. The venue
                        conferences! (see report below)          was beautiful, the service perfect and the dresses and suits
                                                                 blew us all away. The gourmet food showcased Gippsland
                        Several barbeques, a fantastic and       produce beautifully, whilst the sunset over the incredible
                        crazy Get Plastered night – involving    view made for a perfect backdrop to sipping the vineyard’s
                        a plastering race which awarded          own wines, and then subsequently getting into some very
prizes based on creativity, efficacy and speed – were just the   classy (cough) dancing until the end of the evening.
beginning to a great year.                                       After this many of the Ball’s attendees ventured into
                                                                 Traralgon with pre-organised Maxi Taxis and carried on
Our Trivia Night was a complete success, despite being           until the (very) wee hours of the morning. A suitably fun
moved at the very last second to the Italian-Australian          finish for an incredible year!
Club as a result of the university being closed down due to
adverse weather conditions! The General Practice Students’       Jet Driver (Year B GMS)

                       On day 17 of October, 2009, Monash
                       University students Kathleen O’Keefe
                       and Sandra Nelson left the green
                       dairy pastures of South Gippsland,
                       Victoria for the vivid, red sands of
                       Alice Springs, Northern Territory
                       to attend the 27th CRANAplus
                       conference. The conference that
                       was aimed to ‘unveil the mystery
                       of rural health’; provided a unique
experience for both students to expand their knowledge
base: academically and socially.                                 Networking was a key element to the conference;
                                                                 making new friends and being with like-minded people was
A key presentation which provided invaluable insight into
                                                                 inspirational for the two students. They found this conference
rural and remote health was a paper written by John Wright
                                                                 to be the extremely friendly. The trade show exposed the
from Hermannsberg Health Centre, about 1 ¾ hr west
                                                                 many career opportunities that remote nurses can pursue
of Alice Springs. He explained what it was like to be a
                                                                 and provided lots of information. Sandra Nelson worked at
leader: its challenge, how you become one, the myths
                                                                 the trade show which allowed her to have the conference
and concluded that leadership is helping people and
                                                                 fees waivered; all the students volunteered time at the
organisations face their toughest challenges. Sandra Nelson
                                                                 NRSHN trade pavilion and had an enjoyable time sharing
was fortunate enough to visit John’s centre and see firsthand
                                                                 their placement and study experiences with each other
the changes he had implemented to make it sensitive to the
                                                                 and delegates.
needs of the community and staff. It left her with a sense
of purpose to want to go remote and it reinforced that           We viewed the conference, rural and remote nursing and
Indigenous issues can be addressed successfully.                 Indigenous health as a vital, inspirational environment in
                                                                 which to work and study. Consequently, Sandra Nelson
The undergraduate nursing students were provided with the
                                                                 has been able to do a Power Point presentation at O-week
opportunity to share their thoughts at a media conference
                                                                 at Monash University in 2010, Churchill campus to 190
by the Honourable Warren Snowdon, Minister for Indigenous
                                                                 undergraduate first year nurses to promote their local
Health, Rural and Regional Health, Regional Services.
                                                                 Rural Health Club - WILDFIRE and NRHSN to join up new
As understood by many undergraduate nurses wishing to
                                                                 members in 2010. It resulted in 10 per cent of the nurses
pursue careers in rural and remote health, the students
                                                                 signing up there and then!
brought forth debate regarding funding and shortages
of placements.                                                   Sandra Nelson (Year 1 BNurs)

                                                                                                 WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009 | 13
WILDFIRE Clayton subcommittee Report
                               2009 was a busy year for WILDFIRE       The first Country Hoe Down was held this year as a co-event
                               Clayton, as it heralded the beginning   with Melbourne University’s Outlook rural health club, and all
                               of WILDFIRE’s 15th year. This year      profits went to the Bushfire Appeal. The event was brilliant,
                               we had a fantastic committee            and everyone took to the dance floor to learn some new
                               who had plenty of great ideas and       country moves. Rick E Vengeance kindly donated his time
                               enthusiasm right from the start.        and expertise to the cause.
                       We began the year with some                     Allied Health night continued to be a great night, where
                       fantastic O-Week events, including              student from all health disciplines could get together socially
                       membership sign up and free                     for a great night. This year’s Allied Health Night was held as
                       snow-cones at Med-Fest, followed                an Open Mic Night and attracted a lot of great talent,
by the ever popular Get Plastered event, held at The Swan              which made for a fantastic evening of entertainment.
in Richmond, which gave new rurally minded meddies a
chance to get to know each other, as well as find out a bit            The RWAV Shield was run this year by the first year reps,
more about WILDFIRE.                                                   who held a very popular Dodgeball competition, and the
                                                                       Champions title was hotly contested by all involved.
We also held Dairy Day early in the year, which was a
fantastic opportunity for new and returning WILDFIRE                   Careers and Cocktails made a comeback this year in the
members to meet each other while eating some                           form of WILDFIRE’s inaugural Annual Dinner, which we hope
free ice-cream!                                                        will become an annual fixture of the WILDFIRE calendar.
                                                                       It was a great way to finish the year, and was a fantastic
Matthew Campbell Memorial Evening was an unforgettable                 setting in which to announce the outcome of the WILDFIRE
night, and celebrated its 15th year with an impressive line-up         elections, held earlier that day.
of speakers, including the Hon Dr Brendan Nelson, who had
also spoken at the very first Matthew Campbell Evening in              Thank you to everyone on the WILDFIRE Clayton Committee,
1994. The WILDFIRE Clayton committee was proud to help                 WILDFIRE Council, and Teresa Neale for making this year
the WILDFIRE Council make this evening such a                          so brilliant, and for working so hard to make all our events
brilliant success.                                                     this year fun, vibrant and successful. Your enthusiasm was
                                                                       infectious and made for an unforgettable year.
Clinical Skills Weekend was reinstated this year, and saw a
group of enthusiastic first and second year students head              Nicola Rodd (Year 2 MBBS)
to Traralgon for the weekend to learn and cement some
valuable skill thanks to the staff and students at
Monash Gippsland.

2009	Clayton	

Back	row	–	L-R	–		
Chris	Williames,		
Cam	Sharp,	Stefanie	
Pender,	Freya	Langham,	
Josh	Saunders,	Emma	
Papalardo,	Teresa	Neale

Front	row	–	L-R	–	Ken	Yee,	
Michelle	Chapman,	Nicola	
Rodd,	Kate	Avery,	Kate	
Collins,	Jan	Fletcher,	John	
Clark,	Fran	Crotty

14 | WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009
WILDFIRE Clayton subcommittee Country Hoe
Down and CFA Fundraiser
                         On Tuesday 19 of May, after the
                         sun went down on the banks of
                         the Yarra, Melbourne and Monash
                         University students, along with a few
                         CFA volunteers, decked out in their
                         flannies, cowboy boots, hats and
                         country attire gathered at the heritage
                         building, Melbourne Uni’s Boat Shed.
                         The “Country Hoe Down” was a
                         CFA fundraiser run by OUTLOOK
the Melbourne University Rural Health Club and WILDFIRE
the Monash University Rural Health Club. The shed was
transformed for an authentic barn dance, decked out with
hay bales and gumtree branches from the Mallee region and
was packed with 100 sweaty bodies, puffing and panting
under the enthusiastic instructions of bush dance/line dance
instructor extraordinaire, Rick E Vengence.
A beautiful night-view of central Melbourne was enjoyed from
the balcony to the sounds of upbeat country music. Before
long it was boogie time, with Rick E Vengence instructing
everyone through country classics like the heel and toe and
the Pride of Erin. The rapid dance partner changes saw
everyone meeting and mingling with people from different
universities, different courses (medical, allied health etc) and
CFA volunteers from Gippsland and camperdown.
After the bush dancing, everyone gathered together while
Rick E Vengence spoke of his personal involvement of the
2009 bushfires at a refugee centre and Libby Bulchohlz,
a medical student from Monash and a CFA volunteer,
spoke of her involvement with the camperdown fire brigade
and encouraged others to get involved with their local CFA.
The party did not stop there though – DJ Dean took over the
show with some more modern music and everyone boogied
the night away.
The Hoe Down was a great success and will hopefully
become an annual event for the future. Ticket sales made
$1240, all donated to the CFA in the Bendigo, Seymour and
Warragul Regions. WILDFIRE and OUTLOOK would like
to thank Rick E vengeance for donating his time, and the
enthusiasm and experience for the night from everyone who
came and danced the night away. We look forward to next
year’s Hoe Down with great anticipation – Yee Hah!
CFA RAFFLE – Fran Crotty
$506 was raised by the CFA Raffle organised by Fran Crotty.
Winners were:
•   Rosie Radford – $50 Uni Bookshop Book Voucher
•   Kendall Livingstone – Signed 2009 Essendon Football
    Club Poster
•   Cameron Sharp – Bottle Sparkling Brut
•   Anna Hart – Bottle Smirnoff Vodka
•   Pete Verbeek – $30 Myer gift voucher
•   Celeste Vinay – $30 Myer gift voucher
Jan Fletcher (Year 2 MBBS)

                                                                   WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009 | 15
WILDFIRE Clayton subcommittee
Clinical Skills Weekend, Traralgon
                                 This year, WILDFIRE
                                 Clayton reinvigorated its
                                 Clinical Skills Weekend
                                 in first semester. With
                                 some impressive lecture
                                 bashing from our first year
                                 WILDFIRE reps. we ended
                                 up with approximately 100
                                 applicants, from which
Heather Kelly (long term supporter of WILDFIRE) had the
arduous task of selecting.

After Friday lectures on May 22, the successful first and
second year medical students jumped on a train headed for
Traralgon. It wasn’t long before we arrived at our cabins for
the night and a barbeque was prepared for the hungry group,
on a chilly Gippsland evening. The next day, we began with
an early start beginning with a continental breakfast at the
clinical school.

After a welcome from Gippsland Regional Clinical School
Director, Associate Professor Daryl Pedler, we broke off into
groups and began rotating through skills stations, timed by
our friend the OSCE bell! Activities were both interesting and
useful, including ECG interpretation, GIT exams, suturing
and use of Epipens. We were very fortunate to have the           There was an instant rapport between the staff and students,
experience of the Gippsland staff and students as we went        and a fun, relaxed weekend was had by all. In fact, a number
through these sessions. After a gourmet lunch, we had a tour     of students on their first ‘rural experience’ actually expressed
of the Latrobe Regional Hospital and a session regarding         an interest in completing their clinical training in Gippsland.
communication with Indigenous patients from Hilton Gruis.        Special thanks must go to the Gippsland RCS staff for all the
Hilton is a lecturer for the Monash University Department of     time and effort they gave us.
Rural and Indigenous Health (MUDRIH) and was engaging
with his anecdotes and practical tips for us as both students    I’d also like to thank the WILDFIRE Clayton subcommittee for
and future doctors.                                              all their support.
                                                                 John Clark (Year 2 MBBS)

16 | WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009
WILDFIRE Clayton subcommittee – Open Mic Night
Michelle Chapman (Year 2 MBBS)

                                   WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009 | 17
WILDFIRE Clayton subcommittee – Annual Dinner
                       On Friday 18 September, WILDFIRE          It was a very enjoyable night, and hopefully the beginning
                       Clayton subcommittee held its             of what will become a yearly event for the WILDFIRE
                       Inaugural Annual Dinner, an event         Clayton subcommittee.
                       combining the traditional careers         Emma Pappalardo (Year 2 MBBS)
                       evening with an end-of-year
                       celebration. Following on from
                       the WILDFIRE AGM, over forty                   WILDFIRE Clayton presents its
                       WILDFIRE members and alumni
                       met at Mama Duke Café in Caulfield
                       to recognize and commemorate
another successful year of WILDFIRE activities.
                                                                     Inaugural Annual Dinner
                                                                                                       with guest speakers
The night featured talks from guest speakers Jess Adams
and Briohney Klason, who spoke to the gathered members
about their lives as doctors and their experiences working       Friday 18th September-
in rural areas as both medical students and
medical professionals.                                           Mama Duke Cafe,
                                                                 Monash Caulfield Campus
Clayton subcommittee President Nicola Rodd                       n

provided a round-up of the year’s events.
The evening finished on a high point with the
announcement of the 2010 Clayton subcommittee.

 – RWAV Shield
                       On 16 October the WILDFIRE
                       Clayton subcommittee, hosted the
                       annual RWAV shield. The RWAV
                       shield is a sporting competition for
                       first and second year med students
                       which is sponsored by the Rural
                       Workforce Agency of Victoria (RWAV).
                       This year, teams competed in a game
                       of dodge ball. As one of the first year
                       students said ‘if you can dodge exam
                       study you can dodge ball’. It was an
incredibly intense competition in which heroes were made
and egos where smashed.
Dodge ball was a great break after all those Friday afternoon
lectures. We had an excellent turn out of first years as they
rallied to support their teams. Many of the teams had dressed
in inspiring costumes in order to promote team spirit.
The competition between the eight teams was fierce, most
people remembered “the five D’s of dodge ball: dodge, duck,
dip, dive, and ... dodge.” Some teams did struggle with the
‘dodge’ part and hence were eliminated.
As the competition progressed the noise from the crowds
rose but in the end there could be only one victor.
Congratulations to the 2009 winners of the RWAV shield,
Heroes and Friends.
Chris Williames (Year 2 MBBS)
18 | WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009
WILDFIRE Clayton subcommittee
‘Get Plastered’
                         Get Plastered has been one of the
                         opening events of WILDFIRE for
                         several years. In 2009 the event
                         was held on Thursday February
                         26th, during Orientation Week.
                         The event was a great success,
                         with approximately 60 students
                         attending. It was great this year
                         to see some Allied Health students,
                         notably Radiography students,
at the event, as well as the usual Medical student contingent.
WILDFIRE’s relationship with The Swan Hotel is very strong
at the moment and they are keen to continue our association
with the hotel and host Get Plastered in 2010.
Having food brought out was a big hit, there were twenty
bowls of hot chips brought out during the evening,
all were eaten.
Overall the night was fantastic, a solid turnout and an
enjoyable experience for all.
Josh Saunders (Year 2 MBBS)

                                                                 WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009 | 19
WILDFIRE East Gippsland subcommittee –
Annual Report
                          WILDFIRE played a small but
                          important role for students on
                                                                     Info weekend May 2009
                          placement in East Gippsland in 2009.       The East Gippsland Regional Clinical School (EGRCS) hosted
                                                                     their annual Year 4C WILDFIRE Information weekend on 23
                           The subcommittee organised one
                                                                     May. Five graduate entry students and three undergraduate
                           event in each semester which
                                                                     students started their tour very early on Saturday morning.
                           coincided with the second year
                                                                     Debra Johnston (EGRCS Office Supervisor) transported them
                           medical student rotations in the area.
                                                                     through magical East Gippsland visiting the GP practices,
                           Both events were held with the aim
                                                                     hospitals and student housing in Orbost, Lakes Entrance and
                           of educating students about the
                                                                     Bairnsdale. Later in the day, Marnie Connolly (EGRCS Clinical
                           realities of working as a rural medical
                                                                     Educator) organised a clinical skills workshop. The clinical
practitioner, particularly in East Gippsland. The evenings
                                                                     skills were demonstrated by current Year 4 students, Evan
were attended by Year 2 and Year 4 and also provided an
                                                                     O’Neill and Angela La Macchia.
opportunity for social interaction between all students.
Two local General Practitioners were invited to present              Many of the students fell in love with the beauty of East
at each evening. In an informal and friendly manner they             Gippsland; especially their accommodation – Captains Cove
discussed their current work, career paths, interests, reasons       Apartments situated on the majestic Paynesville canals.
for living in East Gippsland and fielded the different questions     WILDFIRE has sponsored this weekend since 2004, and the
posed by students. Students enjoyed the evenings very                clinical school would like to thank them for their continued
much and appreciated the interesting insights provided               support. The staff are sure they will see some of these
by the guest speakers.                                               students return in 2010.
                                                                     Tim Wittick (Year 4 MBBS)

WILDFIRE Handover 2009
                                                                                       From left to right: Melissa Fitzgerald, Gemma
                                                                                       Lay, Pete Verbeek, Annie Kilpatrick, Catherine
                                                                                       Pendrey, Rachael Purcell, Elyssia Bourke, Nicola
                                                                                       Rodd, Peter Taylor and Aaron Wiggins

20 | WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009
WILDFIRE Mildura subcommittee – Annual Report
                        WILDFIRE Mildura had a very busy         At the beginning of second semester the doctors had mostly
                        year in 2009, with more members          changed and the subcommittee felt it was time for another
                        and events than it’s ever had before.    mixer, so another BBQ was held at different student housing
                        2009 saw the number of medical           with the same aim – to get to know our ‘higher-ups’.
                        students based at Mildura double         With an ‘Op-tail’ theme (that is Op Shop and Cocktails, if
                        from 10 to 20, and with a 100            you’re as out of the loop as me), a good night was had by all.
                        per cent join rate the WILDFIRE
                        subcommittee at Mildura grew too.        Also in second semester, several of the Mildura WILDFIRE
                        The year began early, as WILDFIRE        members attended the Vibe Alive festival in association
                        hosted a Meet and Greet at the           with students from the OUTLOOK Rural Health Club (of
student housing, giving the Mildura students a chance to         Melbourne Uni) and NOMAD (of Deakin Uni). Here we taught
sign up and get to know the doctors who worked at the            local children from primary schools with a high percentage
hospital in a more casual (and less busy) environment.           of Indigenous students about nutrition, the need for plenty of
This was a great opportunity with many of the students           exercise and how they could get involved in healthcare when
making lasting friendships with the hospital staff.              they finished school. In the afternoon session we taught
                                                                 them some basic first aid (with the help of Outlook’s excellent
The follow-up event was a Movies Under the Stars night,          sim-man) and plastered plenty of (unbroken) arms – much to
held at the doctor’s flats at the end of summer. After a         the dismay of many local parents, I’m sure.
meeting to ensure we had more events organised for later
in the semester, a particularly gifted techie and locum psych    Later in the semester a Trivia Night was held to give the new
registrar set up a projector and movie screen in the             fifth and fourth years a chance to meet the third years who
courtyard where everyone was able to watch movies                had already been in town for six months. The last event of
and play Guitar Hero.                                             the year was a farewell BBQ, where we wrapped up loose
                                                                 items of business and said goodbye to the doctors and
During first semester some of the students also took the         other locals who had made our year in Mildura such a
time to visit a few of the local high schools and talk to them   pleasant one.
about careers in the field of healthcare. The high school
students at St. Joseph’s and Mildura Senior College were         Unfortunately some planned events weren’t able to be run,
very enthusiastic and full of questions about courses from       simply because of how quickly our time in Mildura went by.
Medicine and Nursing to Occupational Therapy and Nuclear         The local produce tour (where we would have had free reign
Medicine, despite the short time we had to talk to them.         over a local vineyard) and river safety day may have never
They also loved learning how to do a basic sling and how         eventuated, but at least the groundwork has been
to use a sphygmomanometer.                                       laid (and contacts made) for the 2010 WILDFIRE
                                                                 Mildura subcommittee.
                                                                 Joseph O’Brien (Year 2 MBBS)

                                                                                               Back row: Nicola Rodd,
                                                                                               Melissa Fitzgerald, Aaron Wiggins
                                                                                               and Gemma Lay

                                                                                               Front row: Pete Verbeek and
                                                                                               Katrina De Marco

                                                                                                 WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009 | 21
WILDFIRE Parkville subcommittee – Annual Report
                          Rural Road Trip
                          2009 Report
                          The rural road trip is the main
                          event held by WILDFIRE Parkville
                          every year. WILDFIRE Parkville
                          has approximately 30 members
                          interested in widening their
                          knowledge on the many aspects
                          of rural health.
This year we decided to visit the Traralgon area. With certain
parts and many families greatly affected by the devastating
Gippsland bushfires we also made an effort to organise
some volunteer work on our trip.
The freezing cold day started with 24 keen students
                                                                  WILDFIRE	students	with	Anne	Leversha	and	Hanan	Khalil	at	LRH		
boarding a bus to Traralgon South, a severely affected            (and	also	Hanan’s	children	in	the	bottom	left	–	very	excited!)
bushfire region. Upon arrival at the community relief hub
we split into groups of four students. Over the course of
the morning, students were involved in a range of volunteer       Huge thanks must go to Anne Leversha and Hanan
activities to help the affected victims. Some students cooked     Khalil (pharmacist academic at LRH) for playing a major
lasagnes and soups for the affected families, while others        organisational role in the day. Without their help the day
helped dig up an old garden bed to plant herbs. Over the          would not have been such a great success.
course of the morning, each group went on a bus tour of the
                                                                  WILDFIRE Parkville is one of many subcommittees across
affected area, to see first hand the devastation that the fires
                                                                  the state and represents Pharmacy amongst other allied
caused. On the tour we heard many stories of individuals in
                                                                  health students. Being a member of WILDFIRE allows
the area; the amazing survival of many and the challenges
                                                                  students access to subsidised trips, grants for conferences,
they now face rebuilding their homes and properties. It was
                                                                  as well as an extensive exposure to rural health. If anyone
a heart warming experience to hear of the mateship and
                                                                  would like more information on WILDFIRE and the
solidarity of the Traralgon South and Calignee communities
                                                                  events we organise through the year please email
as they rebuild.
We left Traralgon South around midday to have lunch at
                                                                  Alex Bongers (Year 3 BPharm)
Latrobe Regional Hospital to meet up with Director of
Pharmacy, Anne Leversha, amongst other administrative
                                                                  Alex Bongers (President)
staff. Latrobe Regional Hospital (LRH) is a 250 bed hospital,
                                                                  Glen Swinburne (Secretary)
which is relatively new, having been built only 10 years ago.
                                                                  Catherine Downey (Treasurer)
We had lunch there followed by an extensive tour of the
hospital. It was easy to see the great opportunities available
in a rural areas whilst still being exposed to many fields
of pharmacy. Following the tour we boarded the bus to
commence our trip home.

Hill	side	is	completely	burnt.		                                                        Third	year	Pharmacy	students	preparing		
Looking	south	towards	Mt	Tassie                                                         the	garden	bed	for	planting

22 | WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009
WILDFIRE Grant Report
 2010 NAPSA Congress
                        The 19th January 2010 signaled            Experiences that drew my particular interest included the
                        my departure to the 2010 NAPSA            following presentations:
                        (National Association of Pharmacy
                                                                  •   ‘Life as a pharmacist on Thursday Island’. This session
                        Students in Australia) Congress.
                                                                      had a main focus on health care provision in rural areas
                        This year’s Congress was held,
                                                                      and to Indigenous communities. Presented by Thursday
                        quite unfortunately, on the Gold
                                                                      Island Pharmacy proprietor Lynn Short;
                        Coast. However, before I could
                        attend the conference I had to make       •   Presentation by Jane Hoffman on the rural relief team
                        an essential stopover in Brisbane             that provides pharmacy services to outback QLD; and
                        for the Calvin Harris sideshow for
                        educational purposes!                     •   ‘New Continuing Education Program for Hospital
                                                                      Pharmacy and Changing Role’. Presented by Ian
The 2010 NAPSA Congress showcased a range of guest                    Coombes.
speakers including Kos Sclavos (President, Pharmacy Guild
of Australia) included creative workshops focusing on gaps        I thank WILDFIRE for their support to attend this conference;
in health care at a patient and institutional level, held the     it has allowed me to meet many interesting people, provide
wildcard entry for Pharmacy Student of the Year (PSOTY),          opportunities and professional direction. I am sure the
and allowed enthusiastic like-minded students to mingle in        knowledge I have brought back from the 2010 NAPSA
a array of ridiculous costumes recruited for the social events.   Congress will be applicable to an internship as a pharmacist
                                                                  and into the future.
                                                                  Alex Bongers (Year 3 BPharm)

Advancing Indigenous Health: Workforce Innovations
                        Leaders in Indigenous Medical             In 2007 I undertook my Bachelor of Medical Science looking
                        Education (LIME) Connection III           into the medical student experience of the Indigenous health
                                                                  curriculum at Monash University. Given that my attendance
                        Melbourne, 3-4 December 2009
                                                                  at the previous LIME Connection held in Sydney two years
                                                                  ago was a major component of my research for this project
                         The LIME Connection is the               I was determined to present my findings at the next LIME
                         premier conference of the Leaders        Connection. Fortunately my abstract was accepted and I
                         in Indigenous Medical Education          was finally given an opportunity to present the very relevant
                         network, a project of the Medical        findings of my research. It was an overwhelming experience
                         Deans of Australia and New Zealand       to be presenting research alongside the people who I had
                         (MDANZ). Every two years the LIME        quoted in my own project, and the fact that my presentation
Connection aims to bring together Indigenous and non-             was very well received. In fact, many high profile Indigenous
Indigenous medical educators, Indigenous health specialists,      health academics commented that they will be awaiting the
policy makers, and community members from Australia,              publication of my project in order to be able to quote it in
New Zealand, Canada and United States of America in order         their own research.
to discuss and debate innovative approaches to Indigenous
medical education and the recruitment and retention of            Another highlight of the conference was the social program
Indigenous medical students.                                      which included the Conference Dinner, Connection Breakfast
The LIME Connection III program was full of inspiring             and participation in a Koori Cultural Tour through the centre
keynote speakers and packed with interesting discussion           of Melbourne with delegates from across Australia,
stemming from the poster presentations and concurrent             New Zealand, Canada and the United States of America.
sessions. With the theme for this conference being                Between being able to listen to experts in the area, develop
‘Advancing Indigenous Health: Workforce Innovations’              a further understanding of Indigenous cultures from around
there was a strong emphasis throughout the conference on          the world and present my own research, being able to
the importance of developing a future medical workforce           attend LIME III was overall an awe-inspiring experience.
who will be both competent and confident in dealing with          Furthermore, it has inspired me to want to undertake
Indigenous people, culture and communities in order to            additional research into the area of understanding the
facilitate an improvement in Indigenous health outcomes.          student experience of Indigenous health curricula and
Additionally, due to the strong presence of delegates from        therefore I would like to thank the Faculty and WILDFIRE for
New Zealand, Canada and the United States of America the          assisting me to attend this fantastic conference. The next
conference was also able to present a global perspective on       conference, LIME Connection IV, is due to be held in New
Indigenous health and medical education.                          Zealand in 2011 and I will definitely be planning to attend.
                                                                  Lana Prout (Year 5 MBBS)

                                                                                                  WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009 | 23
WILDFIRE Grant Report                                             change, but each, a spoke in the wheel driving towards
                                                                  better health outcomes for Indigenous Australians
                                                                  – or trying to.
Aboriginal Medical Service                                        To illustrate the point that our social policies and so called
During my time at an Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS)             ‘Intervention’ fails to deliver outcomes because of a
I became repeatedly frustrated by a single recurring theme        misguided agenda out of sync with reality, I’ll tell a story of
and a few small truths that stemmed from that. The former is      a girl I met whilst visiting a community. I was part of a group
the simple fact that the mainstream population is too hung        conducting child health checks as part of the Intervention.
up on being politically correct to effectively instigate change   I would (try to) engage the kids in health promotion activities
in the Indigenous community, and the latter are the deranged      whilst they waited to see the doctor. This would involve
priorities that are proposed by the governing bodies, and the     teaching them how to brush their teeth, to wash their hands,
agendas that are pushed as part of those. The fact that we        and how to eat well. During these activities I met an eight
are failing the Aboriginal population because we are too self     year old girl. It was about two o’clock in the afternoon and
conscious for the radical changes required was first flagged      she was sitting next to me in her underpants, quite
to me by a 39 year old Aboriginal man with schizophrenia.         unperturbed. I asked her why she hadn’t gone to school.
He deduced, quite a lot more colourfully than I am about to       She had missed the bus because she slept in. I asked what
do, that the problems are going unsolved because the              time she went to bed and she said after midnight. I told her
strategies to combat the issues are written by young,             that it’s important to get to bed early so that she can get up
bright-eyed graduates barely out of university who attach         in time for the community bus. We sat chatting for a while
themselves to the ideals they debate in their social studies      and I later found that she doesn’t get to bed before midnight
classes, and don’t take into account the realities of health      because she is living in a house with eighteen people.
(or lack thereof) in the Aboriginal community.                    Furthermore, her home is the ‘drug house’ of that
                                                                  community. She proudly tells me that she knows how to call
In the odd event that a radical step is taken, a most recent      the police and smiles when she says she has done it four
example being the ‘Intervention,’ where (among many things)       times when everyone is too noisy in her house. No doubt the
some hard line measures were introduced, such as the              life of this eight year old shocks you. Fine then, you think.
zoning of some communities as ‘dry,’ the media fuels a
public outcry and judges such efforts harshly. It seems they      Perhaps the Intervention had it right. We’ll make the
would prefer the notion of ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ where     community dry, that’ll solve the problem. Did I mention that
the troubles can go on grumbling along, away from the             this is already supposedly a ‘dry’ community? Oh, and that
conscience of the mainstream public.                              on my way out I was jeered by a mob of six to eight blokes,
                                                                  each with as many slabs as they could carry, sitting on the
Please note I’m not about to debate the finer points of           fringe of the community throwing a few back. You must
whether or not the Intervention was correct, I’m simply using     understand what I fool I felt, sitting there telling this girl that
it as an example to illustrate my point. If I learnt anything     she should drink water, no coke and eat fruit, rather than
during my placement, it’s that it is all too easy to point the    lollies. She is hardly in a position to dictate what foods she
finger. Of course though, you must then ask yourself, what        can eat. Her greatest concern is whether or not she’ll get
better could I do? We can’t blame those people responsible        through the night unharmed. And as she grows older she’ll
for the policies and funding strategies. Many of them sit in      be frightened by the threat of sexual abuse. You must see
offices far removed from the reality, they respond to figures,    how the altruistic agenda of health education is simply not
trends, and data. Indeed, I too was guilty of romantic notions    practical for the situation on the ground, and this is
of what my placement would entail. On my last day of              representative of many programs running with unrealistic
‘cultural sensitivity training,’ before I headed to my            objectives. Those working in the health sector could be
community, the coordinator said to me ‘now don’t try and          forgiven for likening themselves to the hammer in the carnival
change the world, because you won’t, especially not in six        game where you have to knock the rabbits on the head as
weeks.’ Now that was reasonable, I thought. While I had           they come out of their holes. We are merely tending to
altruistic notions of doing my bit, of helping to ‘Close the      spot-fires. The actual front is raging and is fuelled by the ever
Gap,’ I certainly wasn’t delusional enough to expect that I       increasing gap between the social determinants of the
could change the world, so to speak. Hundreds of medically        mainstream and Indigenous populations.
and otherwise trained professionals had trodden that path
before me. Very few solely responsible for any dramatic           Until housing, education and employment are tended to, and
                                                                  the people feel empowered, what good is it telling this eight
                                                                  year old to eat well? You can’t blame her for non-compliance.
                                                                  It’s simply not her priority, and you feel as though you’ll grant
                                                                  her any small pleasure in the meantime. I don’t pretend to
                                                                  have the answers, and it appears every new initiative seems
                                                                  destined to fail. No matter how we try to do the right thing,
                                                                  and how innovative we are in our approach the more
                                                                  complicated the situation becomes. As previously mentioned,
                                                                  the dry communities are anything but that. The housing crisis
                                                                  is (supposed to be) addressed by shipping subcontractors
                                                                  into communities to build housing. However, in doing this,
                                                                  skilled members of the community who could be employed
                                                                  to help build these houses are disempowered and are
                                                                  ground down by the lack of confidence in them. So they turn

24 | WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009
to drink, they reside themselves to receiving handouts and        corners in any town in the NT, scattered along highways
they can see no incentive, nor any avenue to improve their        between major centres, and concentrated within many
situation. Aboriginals who have achieved an education and         communities. I don’t say these things to be cynical. I am
are working professionals find themselves caught in a kind        not a pessimist and I hope that I have not been jaded. I am
of purgatory where they are not fully accepted by the             simply frustrated, and I am trying to convey a few truths so
mainstream community because they are thought to have             that those students who go after me can approach their
their ‘black’ friends, nor are they now accepted amongst          time with realistic expectations and can avoid the soul
the Aboriginal community for they are perceived to think          crushing disappointment you experience when you realise
that they are ‘too fancy’ for their fellow Indigenous people.     that despite the efforts of many organisations, very little is
I met a teacher in this situation who was so distressed by        changing. Knowing these frustrations may ease the
her newfound loneliness she suffered severe depression            transition for those coming from ‘down south,’ and
and had tried to take her own life. These were not                hopefully then they can hit the ground running.
particularly extra-ordinary occurrences. I spent a short time
in the Territory, so don’t think you must go digging deep to      Sarah Brew (Year 5 MBBS)
see such things. They are in plain view on many street

Rural Placement 2009: Goulburn Valley Hospital, Shepparton
                       After 180km, two hrs 25 mins, two           I felt such a sense of reward, as though I had contributed to
                       CDs, a packet of skittles and a 600ml       this woman to return to her daily activities. I gained a new
                       diet coke, I arrived in Shepparton.         insight as to how important it is to develop a good rapport
                       Being a 20 year old from the city still     with patients and treat each patient as an individual, rather
                       living at home with my parents, the idea    than another examination. I feel that this sense of close
                       of living autonomously in Shepparton        personal rapport and community is unique to rural centres,
for five weeks during my radiography clinical placement was        and is one of the main reasons I would return to work in a
daunting, and I didn’t know what to expect.                        rural community.
I quickly understood that ‘rural’ did not mean ‘roughing it.’      Another valuable lesson I learned during my placement was
I was delighted to discover that the Goulburn Valley Hospital      one of friendship. I was welcomed so warmly into the
was modern and well equipped with all the latest technology.       medical imaging department of Goulburn Valley Hospital,
This was the ideal setting for me to enhance my professional       and was quick to develop friendships with the interns and
and technical skills, while developing some new life skills.       staff with whom I was working. During my first week, I was
                                                                   included on all the social activities; from being asked to sit
As a result of this experience, I discovered the meaning of        with the staff in their ‘reserved table in the courtyard’ to
the word ‘community.’ I found myself performing                    receiving an invitation to a staff member’s hen’s night.
examinations on a variety of different people of all shapes,       Additionally, I was very fortunate I was living in a shared
sizes and backgrounds, all of whom were willing to share           house with two other radiography interns, both as crazy and
their ‘story’ with me. Often, the staff I was working with were    wild as each other. I had never met the girls before, but over
acquainted with relatives or friends of the patients and there     the five weeks we spent together, we developed a wonderful
was such a good level of rapport developed with the                bond, and they are two people I will never forget.
patients. One particular patient stands out when I reflect
on my time in Shepparton and this idea of community.               Ultimately, while I developed my skills in sonography and
I performed an examination on a patient who presented in           radiography during my time at Goulburn Valley Hospital,
the emergency department after she was sat on by a cow.            I also learnt some very valuable lessons about community
I found this request particularly peculiar, and unlike anything    and friendship. I have changed my attitude to patient care as
I had seen on any of my city placements. During the                a result of my experience, and gained a new understanding
examination I developed a good rapport with the patient,           of what it means to be part of a community. I will never forget
chatting flippantly about her incident with the cow. Later that    my time in Shepparton, and I endeavour to pursue further
day I ventured to the local supermarket, and to my surprise        rural placements in the future, due to the rewarding nature
bumped into the patient I had assisted earlier in the day.         of working in a rural community.
I smiled and asked her how she was feeling and walked
away beaming. I was amazed by this encounter, as I had             Jemima Dowell (Year 3 Radiography)
never experienced anything similar on city placements.
                                                                                                     WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009 | 25
WILDFIRE Grant Report
                            “Rural Health –                               nursing to nutrition – and by so doing reach beyond the
                                                                          limited sphere of multidisciplinary interaction which so often
                            the place to be!”                             enshrouds medical education. The need for collaboration
                                                                          between medical and allied health services is vital, especially
                           The 10th National Rural Health                 in rural locations, and this approach is obviously appreciated
                           Conference was held in Cairns                  by students. The opportunity to network with others, share
                           from 17-20 May 2009 under the                  career aspirations, and collectively advocate on issues such
                           banner ‘Rural Health – the place to            as rural medical education left a lasting impression
                           be!’ Convened biannially in regional           on many of us. (Discussion even focused on the prospect
                           centers throughout Australia,                  of a conference dating service which, it was agreed, would
                           the conference has evolved                     do wonders to boost Australia’s future rural health workforce!
significantly since its origins in Toowoomba, eighteen                    Students are considering forwarding a proposal to the
years ago. Today, the event represents the highlight of                   2012 organising committee.)
the National Rural Health Alliance calendar, and attracts
                                                                          Attracting such a scale and diversity of stakeholders,
almost one thousand academics, health practitioners, policy
                                                                          the NRHC meeting confers a unique opportunity for the
advisors and rural citizens from every corner of Australia.
                                                                          formation and direction of wide-ranging policy addressing
As a student with a passion for rural health practice,                    rural health issues. On the final day of proceedings Gordon
the conference provided a number of valuable learning                     Gregory, CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance,
experiences. The academic program was diverse in nature                   presented the Federal Health Minister with a communiqué
and scope, offering an extensive array of sessions presented              replete with an extensive list of recommendations developed
by individuals working in many of the country’s most isolated             during the course of conference sessions. In accepting the
regions. Personal highlights included a plenary presentation              documents, Nicola Roxon clearly articulated her support for
in which Fran Baum addressed key social determinants of                   rural health initiatives and applauded the relentless efforts of
health impacting upon rural communities, and an honest                    the rural workforce in supporting Australian communities.
panel discussion incorporating various stakeholders’
                                                                          I am grateful to both the Commonwealth Government
views regarding the ramifications of the Northern Territory
                                                                          through the National Rural Health Students’ Network
Emergency Intervention. Hearing the views of Indigenous
                                                                          (NRHSN) Conferences of National Significance scheme and
health workers and senior academics regarding this highly
                                                                          WILDFIRE, Monash University’s Rural Student Health Club,
contentious government policy was invaluable.
                                                                          for providing the financial support that enabled me to attend
The most rewarding opportunities the week provided,                       the conference in Cairns. I would encourage other students
however, were the countless interactions shared with the                  to make use of similar opportunities to explore areas of
fifty or so other students who attended the conference from               health care provision beyond the confines of the
throughout Australia and New Zealand. For myself, it was                  university classroom.
incredibly refreshing to engage with students from a diverse
                                                                          David Humphreys (Year 4 MBBS)
array of health disciplines – from pharmacy to physiotherapy,

Clockwise	from	top	left:

Friendly	smiles	made	it	very	easy	to	get	to	know	other	students	from	a	
variety	of	health	backgrounds	during	the	conference.

Enjoying	an	early	morning	breakfast	in	the	sunshine.

The	Federal	Minister	for	Health,	the	Hon	Nicola	Roxon,	addressed	
delegates	upon	receiving	the	official	conference	communiqué	on	the	
final	day.	

The	future	role	of	nurse	practitioners	and	physician	assistants	was	a	
key	topic	within	discussions	regarding	workforce	shortages	in	rural	
and	remote	communities.	

Audience	at	the	10th	National	Rural	Health	Conference	in	Cairns.

26 | WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009
WILDFIRE Life Memberships
                         2006 – Joined WILDFIRE in first             in the area is really like. In 2008, we were disappointed to
                         year. Parkville didn’t really have          find out that the Faculty hadn’t been able to secure funding
                         a subcommittee as such, but I               again, but we were still determined to run the trip. All of our
                         acted as a first-year rep making            Council-allocated money plus some of our funding from the
                         announcements and helping to                Monash Parkville Students Association was spent on the
                         organise events such as a raffle            trip, but I was just relieved that we’d been able to run it again
                         for the RFDS.                               as it was a really enjoyable day and gave another group of
                                                                     students a chance to see what rural pharmacy is really like.
                      2007– New subcommittee structure               In 2009, we received funding through the Health, Wellbeing
                      at Parkville – voted co-chair. I helped        and Development HUB and Alex Bongers (one of the current
                      to organise club events including              co-chairs) organised an amazing day.
Guest Speaker Night and the Inaugural Rural Road Trip
to Warrnambool.                                                      Back when I took on the role of co-chair, I knew that it
                                                                     wouldn’t be possible to persuade everyone to go rural, but if
2008 – Was voted co-chair again, but second co-chair                 I could see just one city kid decide to go rural I’d be satisfied.
position remained unfilled for most of the year. Organised           A few weeks ago, I heard that one of my friends who has
all subcommittee events for the year – including orientation         lived in Melbourne all his life has accepted a position at
week stall, Rural Road Trip to Ballarat and Halls Gap and a          a community Pharmacy in Moe next year. Next year I’m
dinner for members, as well as compiling the 2008 budget.            going to be completing my pharmacy intern year at Latrobe
Also became the Parkville rep on the Inaugural WILDFIRE              Regional Hospital in Traralgon and plan on working in the
Council. Gave a presentation at a faculty event for rural            country as much as I can.
students promoting WILDFIRE. Attended NURHC
in Launceston.                                                       Gemma Lay (Year 4 BPharm)
2009 – Supportive role as past chair/4th year rep on the
Parkville WILDFIRE subcommittee. Took on position of IT rep
on WILDFIRE Council. Attended the National Rural Health                                        I have been a member of WILDFIRE
Conference with funding from the Pharmacy Guild                                                ever since first year in 2004. During
of Australia. Presented at NURHC in Cairns.                                                    this time I have held many leadership
                                                                                               positions within WILDFIRE including
I’m passionate about rural health. Promoting rural health and
                                                                                               NRHSN representative (04 – 06),
WILDFIRE is something I really enjoy – I’ve never seen it as a
                                                                                               Eastern WILDFIRE Satellite Chair
‘chore’. When I start a task I finish it and finish it to the best
                                                                                               (06), Council Vice-President (08) and
of my ability. I knew that when I joined WILDFIRE I wanted
                                                                                               Council Membership Officer (09).
to be more than just a member who attended one or two
                                                                                               In addition to these roles I have also
events- I wanted to make a difference. Back at this stage,
                                                                                               been heavily involved in organising
council didn’t exist and the advent of Council has allowed me
                                                                                               regular WILDFIRE events such
to come even further than I had previously imagined. When I
                                                                     as the annual Matthew Campbell Memorial Evenings on
first joined Parkville WILDFIRE the club didn’t really seem to
                                                                     Indigenous Health, Rural High School Visits, Rural Careers
be going anywhere. It’s been amazing to see how far we’ve
                                                                     Evenings, Clinical Skills Days, social events and WILDFIRE’s
come in the past four years and even more amazing to think
                                                                     involvement at Croc Fest and NURHC. Also in 2007 I was
that I’m part of the reason that we’ve come so far.
                                                                     a member of the WILDFIRE Constitutional Working Party
I’m also highly organised – which has this year given the            who went about changing the entire structure of WILDFIRE
club timely website updates so that all our members have             in order to better represent all members regardless of their
easy access to what’s going on within WILDFIRE. Teamwork             course or study location.
and communication have also been a critical part of my
                                                                     I was a member of the WILDFIRE Constitutional Working
involvement with WILDFIRE. During my time with the club
                                                                     Party that developed the WILDFIRE Council as I strongly
I’ve had to work with university staff (both from the Faculty
                                                                     believe in the multi disciplinary approach to rural healthcare.
of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the School
                                                                     I have always advocated for nursing and allied
of Rural Health), the Parkville subcommittee and the
                                                                     health members.
WILDFIRE Council. I haven’t clashed with any WILDFIRE
members and have in fact made some amazing friends.                  I am a very passionate person which was what led me to
I’ve also attended all Council meetings this year.                   become involved with WILDFIRE in the first place and then
                                                                     the NRHSN and the NRHA.
At Monash Parkville, both staff and students are aware that
I’m the ‘rural health person’ on campus. When the Pharmacy           I am dedicated to the cause of WILDFIRE which is why I
Guild asked staff to select a student to send to the National        have been involved for the entire length of my degree.
Rural Health Conference in Cairns, there were several staff
on campus who recommended me. If students have had any               In addition to my roles within WILDFIRE, I have been involved
questions regarding rural placements they’ve often come to           with the NRHSN as WILDFIRE representative for 3 years
me for advice. I’ve worked hard to promote rural pharmacy            (04 – 06), NRHA student representative (07 – 08), ARHEN
to students at Parkville. In 2007, we received Faculty funding       representative (06, 08), AMSA representative (06) and this
to run a ‘Rural Road Trip’ to take students on a day trip to         year as a RHSV Officer (09). I have also been a member
a rural area, with a visit to a pharmacy to see what working         of the NRHA Board (08) which ensured that the student
                                                                                                       WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009 | 27
viewpoint was well represented on various rural health                                   2004 1st year Representative
matters. Additionally I have also been involved with the                                 2005 Publicity Representative
production of the NRHSN’s RHSV Kit and the Mental Health
                                                                                         2008 Council Sponsorship Officer
Survival Guide (both editions).
                                                                                         and Rural Careers Weekend
I have been a member of the National Rural Faculty of the                                Convener
RACGP since 2007 and am a current student member of                                      2009 Council Vice-President
ACRRM and will be attending the Rural Medicine Australia
conference later this year. I have attended every NURHC
since first year including being on the organising committee                            Aaron has fantastic communication
for the 2007 and 2008 conferences, and presenting papers                                skills and has used these during
in 2007, 08 and 2009. I have been to each of the biennial        his involvement in WILDFIRE to facilitate communication
National Rural Health Conferences in 05, 07 and 09, and          between club members, subcommittees and other rural
was on the conference organising committee in 2009. I            health clubs across Australia. In 2008 he was the convener
also presented a paper at the First Gippsland Mental Health      of the Rural Careers Weekend which involved students
Conference in 2007.                                              from both Monash and Melbourne Universities. This role
                                                                 encompassed organising speakers, workshops, venues,
Through my involvement in Rural High School Visits and           travel and accommodation of students and speakers
Rural Clinical Schools, I have provided mentoring to             from across Victoria.
numerous Gippsland students who have expressed an
interest in a health career.                                     Aaron is a supportive Council member who is always
                                                                 ready and willing to step-up and take responsibility for
Finally, I have spent the vast majority of my clinical years     club activities or offer support and guidance to fellow
in rural Victoria including third year at Latrobe Regional       Council members. Aaron’s manner of approaching tasks
Hospital, undertaking my Bachelor of Medical Science             and communication with other students is always of an
in Moe, fourth year at Orbost and 3 rotations in final year      honourable level and stands as a role model for other
including my elective. I am strongly committed to rural health   Council members to aspire to.
and will be doing my internship in Gippsland next year
followed by training in rural general practice and obstetrics.   Aaron’s work in convening the 2008 Rural Careers Weekend
                                                                 was a major contribution to the careers education of
Lana Prout (Year 5 MBBS)                                         Victorian health students. In addition to the afore-mentioned
                                                                 attributes Aaron brings to the Council ideas and initiatives
                                                                 designed to further the opportunities for students at Monash
                                                                 University who are interested in rural health.
                         2005 Clayton subcommittee
                         2006 Clayton subcommittee
                         2008 Senior NRHSN Representative
                         2009 Senior NRHSN Representative

                        Samantha has always been a positive
                        attribute to WILDFIRE. Stepping
                        into the role of Senior NRHSN
                        Representative in 2008 was a
challenge that she readily accepted. She is a supportive and
active Council Member who is always willing to contribute to
discussion on issues of rural health.
Samantha has represented WILDFIRE as the Senior NRHSN
Representative since 2008. She has been an active member
within this role in conveying information about opportunities
for WILDFIRE members and procuring additional funding
for WILDFIRE activities such as the 2009 WILDFIRE Alpine
Medical Trip. Samantha’s communication skills and approach
to discussion and problem solving have been a valuable
asset to the WILDFIRE Council.

28 | WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009
2009 WILDFIRE Council

    Rachael Purcell            Aaron Wiggins            Pete Verbeek          Melissa Fitzgerald             Catherine Pendrey
      President                Vice-President             Secretary               Treasurer                 ATSI Health Advocate

    Sam Buchholz               Margot Lodge             Gemma Lay              Annie Kilpatrick                Elyssia Bourke
    NRHSN Senior               NRHSN Junior                IT                   Sponsorship                     Sponsorship
    Representative             Representative

      Lana Prout                Peter Taylor          Katrina De Marco            Cara Fox                       Nicola Rodd
      Membership                  Liaison             MWOP (Member                Publicity                 Clayton subcommittee
                                                      without Portfolio)                                          Co-Chair

     Jaffa Withers             Emma Sim and               Jet Driver            Joseph O’Brien                 Alex Bongers
 Clayton subcommittee       Georgie Van der Vliet     Gippsland/Churchill    Mildura subcommittee          Parkville subcommittee
Co-Chair (First semester)   Bendigo subcommittee    subcommittee President         President                       President

      Tim Wittick               Tim Langford
    East Gippsland             East Gippsland
     subcommittee               subcommittee
 (Bairnsdale) President        (Sale) President
                                                                                                   WILDFIRE Annual Report 2009 | 29
School of Rural Health
1st Floor, Building 13A
Clayton campus
Monash University VIC 3800
Phone:   +61 3 9905 1327
Fax:     +61 3 9905 8012
Email:   wildfire@monash.edu
Web:     www.med.monash.edu/wildfire