We rise by lifting others.
( Midwife, Educator, Public Health Consultant )
We paid our own way and took time off work to embark on a working holiday that was to impact on my career as a nurse/midwife and a humanitarian. By working along side PNG nurses and midwives in labor ward, special care nursery and general wards, it was challenging and confronting to practice with such limited resources on hand. As an Australian midwife and nurse, I became ever so grateful for the abundant resources available to us in Australia in delivering effective health care. However, as I saw women birthing in PNG with barely a sheet or anything to wrap their babies in, I was moved to make a commitment to take the plight of these women back to Australia. After witnessing women at the brink of death in childbirth and some neonatal deaths which could have been prevented if resources were at hand, the obvious step was to get together with like minded people and help to make a difference in the remote highlands of Papua New Guinea. The Highlands Foundation was birthed in 2004 and I was amazed as I started sharing stories of the conditions in PNG, how many generous Australians wanted to assist in this humanitarian venture.
The needs were simple: Expertise, Resources and Education for PNG health workers on evidenced based practice. I have consecutively visited Png 5 years in a row for 3-4 week placements and have had the satisfaction of following through the delivery and distribution of four 20 ft containers filled with generously donated medical and hospital supplies which our teams back in Australia have tirelessly gathered and hand packed from Melbourne and Sydney. Since 2003 we have also had a steady flow of Australian doctors, nurses, midwives, medical students, nursing and midwifery students who have volunteered their time and resources to assist in health care of the highlands. An average of 4 teams of 5 volunteers each year have visited the highlands and assisted in health care, making a total of over 60 volunteers in the last 5 years. Added to this we have coordinated and supported sponsorship of two groups of 3 PNG nurses and midwives to attend Australian based conferences and work related experiences in Australia to empower and motivate local health workers to improve their services. The Highlands experience has given me a passion for Public Health Development and hence I was able to complete a Masters in Public Health at Melbourne University at the end of 2006. PNG now feels like my second home. I feel very comfortable during my times there, and I take joy in taking new volunteers with me so that they too can experience the beauty and warmth of the country, people and culture that wins your heart over. PNG staff and patients are so grateful for our involvement and are so welcoming of the assistance we provide that volunteer work in the Highlands is truly rewarding personally and professionally for all our volunteers. PNG health services are reporting better working conditions, reduced mortality and morbidity rates since the assistance given by the Highlands Foundation.
Marketing and Media:
( Doula/Educator/Student Midwife )
I have enjoyed working as a teaching associate at a number of universities over the years, tutoring in bioethics, global politics, human rights and sociology. Since 2010 I have been a feature writer for the Australian Breastfeeding Association magazine Essence. I have also served on the ACU Midwifery Society Executive Committee as Events Coordinator.
I learnt about The Highlands Foundation in 2015 when Marie spoke to ACU students about her work and decided I would get involved in the future. In 2017 I finally participated in one of The Foundation’s packing days and ended up volunteering my millennial skills in service of creating a greater online presence for The Foundation through social media. It’s a pleasure to make such good work known and to raise awareness about the needs of our neighbours in PNG.