"It (Health Outreach Mission) made me realise how not having access to Physiotherapy can turn a simple back or neck strain into a potentially unnecessary chronic issue."
In the company of another physiotherapist, I spent a week in the Yolngu communities of the North East Arnhem land region. The homelands have 30 or more small communities with 50 to 200 residents per community spread throughout the 10,000 sq. km of the region. The impressive coastal and inland landscapes of Yolngu country are matched by the evident harmony people have in living on their country. The communities I visited included Currumuru, Gangan, Yilpara and Wandawuy.
Some of the activities conducted:
- Physiotherapy treatment on the Homelands communities in NE Arnhem Land in conjunction with health workers from Laynhapuy Homelands Association.
- Covering over 1000 kms in a 4WD on dirt tracks to access the communities where treatment was provided.
- Camping out on the Homelands overnight (Gangan and Yilpara) so more communities could be accessed in the week we were there.
- Physiotherapy talk on common mechanical neck and back injuries to Laynha Health staff.
This was my second time up north with the SOS Health Foundation. The organisation, along with Laynha Health have started to make it possible for the Yolngu communities to access a health service we take for granted in metropolitan parts of Australia. The country and lifestyles of the Yolngu people are different to those of the clients I see in Canberra, but I found I was seeing the same mechanical and muscular issues we treat at Sport & Spinal Physiotherapy. It made me realise how not having access to all health professionals, in this case Physiotherapy, can potentially turn a simple back or neck strain into an unnecessary chronic issue. The hands-on treatment and advice I provided was well received by the communities and bought home to me the fact that as physios we can provide excellent healthcare for mechanical and muscular issues.
I must thank my workplace, Sport & Spinal Physiotherapy for the support and enthusiasm the team provided. I am also indebted to the practice for funding my volunteer work by paying my wage whilst I was away for the week with the Outreach Mission; it enabled me to jump at the opportunity without being impacted financially from the experience.
I consider that all of us, health professionals, support staff, practice owners, companies and organisations are capable of adding to the communities we live in and beyond. I would encourage anyone who would like to volunteer their time to disadvantaged communities across Australia, support their staff to participate in volunteer works, or donate to a foundation promoting our profession, to get in contact with the SOS Health Foundation. A small change to your professional outlook can really have significant impact on others.