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Fellow attends Caring for Country Kids conference

Fellow attends Caring for Country Kids conference

Report by Bev Steele, Fellow of ARLP Course 17.

A three-day conference about providing healthcare for children living in remote and rural areas was held from 17-19 April 2016 at the Alice Springs Convention Centre.

I was given the opportunity to attend the conference through the Secondary School Nurse program and Terang College 5-12 Campus. The ANMF funded $400 financial assistance towards me attending the conference and I would like to thank them very much.

I submitted an abstract to present at the conference, which was accepted as a poster. The poster was titled Life is like a box of chocolates, not sure what to expect. The main focus of this poster was to demonstrate the many body and mind changes adolescents experience and the importance of education and support for adolescents before and during these changes. Over twenty posters were presented at the conference.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation for producing the poster and alerting me to the conference for country kids. 

Approximately 400 people, attended the conference, including: health care practitioners, carers, teachers and other professionals. About 30 keynote speakers and 75 concurrent speakers addressed the conference over the three days.

As noted in the Local Centralian Advocate newspaper on Tuesday April 19th by the president of Children’s Healthcare Australia, Prof Trish Anderson: “the conference aims to discuss ways to build resilience, build different delivery systems and partnerships to improve healthcare for children living in rural and remote communities.”

Prof Trish Anderson said: “There are three big issues faced by healthcare workers in delivering care to such children.”

The big issues noted by Prof Trish Anderson for rural and remote children are:

1.) Distance

2.) Challenges of their future: education, the challenges of social media, and the challenges of feeling alone and not being able to link in with services

3.) Making sure parents were well prepared to have children

Some of the key lessons presented at the conference included:

·      The need for a national framework devoted to the unique needs of rural and remote children. The vulnerability of isolated children, presenting data demonstrating how self-harm, suicide and family violence are devastating these communities.

·      A focus on childhood programs to respond to otitis media and hearing loss. With services that connected to rural and remote areas of Australia. Explaining what they provided to outreach communities and getting locals to work with them.

·      Early intervention programs for preschool children, as this is the most affective age for ensuring change to a child’s life.

·      Developing screening tools for remote Australian Aboriginal children and looking at hip dysplasia screening in a rural health district, which bought challenges to services.

·      Skin sores, which presented in remote areas and influenced children attending schools. One school in a remote area employed a nurse the first hour or two to address children’s health in a particular school and had an increase in school attendance.

·      The importance of keeping country kids mentally healthy and connected to health services if available to rural and remote areas.

·      Looking at innovative ways to build workforce capacity and using technology as best we can.

·      Improving children’s oral health in rural Queensland and Victoria through participatory planning.

·      Therapeutic Play Skills Workshops are great for children requiring play to assist them in personal growth areas to develop behavioural changes over a period of time.

·      Early diagnosis of developmental issues for children in rural and remote areas.


The conference was wonderful for connecting with other health care workers in the field and teachers, as well as gaining greater insight and ideas for providing healthcare to rural and remote children.

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