The KEHLP was developed following the successful pilot of the Kimberley Empowerment Project initiated in response to the high rates of suicides in the region from 1999 to 2006. The Kimberley Empowerment Project was developed in a way that was holistic, strengths-based, and culturally and geographically appropriate. It aimed to enhance the capability and capacity of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to take charge of their lives and strengthen their communities. In addition, the project aimed to address the range of social determinants that impact upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural, social, and emotional wellbeing.
At KAMS, we’re proud of our talented leadership team and wanted to shine a spotlight on their work and accomplishments. Here is part two of our KAMS Leadership Series. Meet Jenny, our Broome-based Executive Manager, Remote Services, who shares her love of working in remote communities.
Jenny, our Executive Manager, Remote Services, is a Kimberley woman from Halls Creek with a long and interesting career history. From roles in remote community engagement and executive leadership, she shares our organisation’s value of striving for excellence. Living and working in Perth, the eastern states and central Australia for more than fourteen years, Jenny returned to the Kimberley in 2019 to work with KAMS leading the remote services team.
“In taking this position with KAMS in May last year, I knew I’d be working in remote communities and that was the real attraction for me.”
What sparked her passion for working in remote communities? Interestingly, it was her family connections and a previous community engagement role in Alice Springs. “It’s the people in remote communities that are the real highlight,” Jenny said.
“The staff working in our remote clinics are dedicated and highly-skilled clinicians who provide primary healthcare and emergency after-hours services in remote communities. They are great people doing great work to make positive changes to the health and wellbeing of families living remotely. The services we deliver ensure that our patients have access to quality primary healthcare. We work very closely with our communities and seek their input into the way we deliver our services and programs and that’s exciting stuff!”
In her role, Jenny is responsible for managing and overseeing primary healthcare services in KAMS’ remote clinics and working with her direct reports in those areas.
“We have clinics in five different remote Aboriginal communities. From Beagle Bay to Bidyadanga and out to Balgo, Billiluna and Mulan communities. These are great communities with really strong governance processes and the Clinic is an important part of service delivery in each community.”
Jenny shared how the Balgo clinic is a 12-hour drive from Broome, so KAMS has a weekly charter plane to take staff in and out of the community!
The Kimberley region is culturally and geographically unique so “KAMS has a great induction process which prepares our staff to work remotely. Our Aboriginal staff working in remote clinics are local people and they’re a great source of information and advice. They’re employed in a wide variety of specialist and generalist roles and they deliver programs and services which are specifically tailored to meet the needs of the local community.”
“I’ve always been familiar with KAMS’ work. The organisation has the ability to impact positive change into the lives of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley. It’s an important organisation and I love working with the Board and the Executive management team, who are all extremely dedicated and capable individuals, working hard for the same goal.”
KAMS is a member-based, regional Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) which supports and represents the interests of and provides a collective voice for a network of member ACCHS from towns and remote communities across the Kimberley region.
“Our services in our clinics are outstanding and unique because of our Model of Care and the way we deliver services within our communities in the Kimberley. The Model is specific to the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector and is based on the strengths of our communities.”
Jenny and the Executive management team have been successfully navigating the organisation’s response through the global pandemic.
“KAMS really demonstrated the best capabilities through unprecedented times coming through COVID-19. We’ve had over 110 days with no active cases in the Kimberley and that’s given us the opportunity to continue to plan and prepare. I’m hoping we’ll see the end of COVID-19 without any active cases in our remote communities.”
In answering the question about what she most likes about working at KAMS, Jenny said, “everyone at KAMS is really committed to positively changing the health status of Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley. From the skilled clinicians in our remote clinics, to the administrative support in Broome, to the Executive management team and the Board of Directors. I feel really privileged to work here.”
Outside of work, Jenny loves catching up with family, fishing, camping and watching the footy.
[su_heading size=”36″ align=”left” margin=”30″]A day in the life of our Medical Director, Dr. Lorraine MD[/su_heading]
At KAMS, we’re proud of our talented leadership team and wanted to shine a spotlight on their work and accomplishments. Meet Dr. Lorraine, our Broome-based Medical Director, who shares the diversity in her role and what she loves about working for KAMS.
Dr. Lorraine MD has worked in Aboriginal health and rural areas in Australia for more than 12 years, predominately in the Pilbara. She was looking for the next step in her career and saw the role for Medical Director advertised for KAMS. With her extensive experience, she believed she could do the job justice. Lorraine moved to the Kimberley in early 2019 and has been working in KAMS ever since.
“It was time for me to take all of my experience in remote and Aboriginal Health and put it to good use,” said Lorraine. “My husband and family and I love north WA. We had done lots of camping there, so we were familiar with the Kimberley. Both of our children have lived in Broome before (one working as a pearl diver!). Even though it’s a regional town, Broome is actually much bigger than we’re used to.
“KAMS has looked after my family and I incredibly well in setting us up in fabulous accommodation and helping me make the move from the Pilbara. The people at KAMS are so welcoming. We found everyone to be really friendly. We had some friends in Broome and had the chance to connect with them. Not to mention, Broome is a place people like to visit, so we often have lots of friends visit us too!”
As Medical Director for our organisation, Lorraine has a number of responsibilities, including overseeing the clinical services team in KAMS remote clinics, Broome based clinical teams and overseeing research. She also manages systems, procedures and governance. Lorraine is Chair of the Lead Clinicians Forum, which meets every two months to discuss clinical issues for both KAMS clinics and member services. This forum ensures KAMS clinical teams across the sector are communicating well and sharing ideas across the region.
“We do a lot of regional work, which involves assessing quality and data across a range of topics. For example, we’ll ask whether we’re doing well with flu vaccines this year. If we are, that’s great. If not, then we discuss what we can do as a region to improve that.
Lorraine also acts as a link between KAMS and the WA Country Health Service (WACHS), which runs hospitals and some remote clinics in the Kimberley.
“We need to have good communication and interaction with WACHS. I broker that at a clinical level, sharing information, understanding what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and how their work intersects with KAMS so we’re not doubling up. COVID-19 made this a necessity; we had to know what was happening in our clinics and hospitals, and how people moved between them. We had to ensure we established smooth transitions to ensure all our patients were looked after well.”
Lorraine also works with the KAMS pharmacist and the WACHS pharmacy to ensure KAMS has good processes for medication and that patients can access what they need after being discharged from hospitals in Perth.
She also oversees clinical services for regional and national disability services, including an early childhood support program. This means KAMS can do NDIS work and help people negotiate and sign up for NDIS programs.
In addition to this, Lorraine also provides clinical leadership for Kimberley Renal Service (KRS), a wholly-owned subsidiary company of KAMS. (Check out our recent article about what it’s like working for Kimberly Renal Services (KRS).)
With all these different responsibilities, a day in the life of a Medical Director is never boring.
“It’s a great job! There’s something different to do every hour. Sometimes, I’m involved in clinical work. But mostly, I’m involved in reviewing strategic documents and lots of meetings to act as a presence for KAMS, to ensure we’re delivering the best service and to oversee Aboriginal health interactions. If an external agency is undertaking a project that involves Aboriginal patients, they may invite me to participate to ensure culturally appropriate care.”
“I love being in a position to promote the Aboriginal community-controlled model of care. It’s different to the Western approach. Instead of thinking in terms of ‘sick’ or ‘not sick’, it’s centred around family, culture, language and country, as well as spiritual, physical and community wellbeing. It’s something that really resonates with me, after almost 30 years in the industry.
“Under the Western model, which is what many people are used to and what I was trained in, healthcare is focused on finding the problems, fixing it, and sometimes, prevention. But we all know that deep down, there are things behind illnesses, things in the background that people need to negotiate to be healthy. I love having the freedom and ability to promote the Aboriginal model of care.”
Lorraine has had many amazing experiences with KAMS, both social and work-related.
“Socially, we have a very active social club. On one occasion, we enjoyed a fabulous outing on a yacht with KAMS staff and family, and got to spot some snubfin dolphins. That was a great day out!
“Work-wise, COVID-19 is still very fresh, but I’m in awe of the KAMS leadership team and our kudos. Those things became so obvious in healthcare organisations during the pandemic. People from all around the country were looking to us, what we were doing, how we were doing it, what communications we were sending – we were invited to be involved on a state and national level. Professionally, that was great to be a part of. COVID-19 could have been a total disaster, but seeing KAMS respond and lead as a well-governed, well-led Aboriginal organisation, I’m very proud to be part of it.”
Lorraine has worked in many organisations, but what stands out for her about KAMS is the strong governance and structures. Clear, established processes means that KAMS team members know how to get what they need.
“Having so much structure can make such a difference when you need to mobilise. For example, during the pandemic, we knew what to do when staff members were sick in remote communities and how to get involved in research that would make a difference to Aboriginal Health. It also means people can come to us and ask for help, and we can form partnerships and respond straight away.”
While KAMS is made up of many different people with their own unique personalities and skills, we all share a common goal of making a positive impact on the health of people in the Kimberley. KAMS attracts people with good values, a strong work ethic and an altruistic attitude.
Looking ahead, Lorraine is excited about getting more Aboriginal people into the workforce at KAMS.
“KAMS has a high Aboriginal employment rate. It’s an important part of our strategic plan. It’s motivating to be able to create positions to attract local Aboriginal people into jobs and potentially, supporting local youth obtain tertiary qualifications to bring their skills to KAMS.”
Outside of work, Lorraine enjoys camping, gardening, fishing, golfing and spending time with family.