My name is Telisha Peck and I’m a 3rd year physiotherapy student from James Cook University. I am currently in my clinical year of my degree, and was lucky enough to be allocated a placement at SOS Health on Palm Island for 5 weeks – an incredibly rewarding learning experience!
As a Torres Strait Islander, I was very excited to be given the opportunity to work with patients within a remote indigenous community. I had never visited an indigenous community before, so it was definitely a new experience…especially as the only student on the island.
At SOS Health, I was lucky enough to treat a range of musculoskeletal conditions – both familiar and unfamiliar – across a variety of settings within the community. This allowed me to develop my personal and professional skills as an emerging allied health professional and learn about the current and evolving community-led healthcare systems on and off the island. Learning about the history of Palm Island and the adversity of the past was definitely an eye-opener. However, it is inspiring the see the positive direction the island is heading in, and made me better appreciate the efforts of the community to help maximize health outcomes for the Bwgcolman people.
I also had the opportunity to run exercise classes at different facilities on the island, work with the aged care community, work alongside an occupational therapist and speak with the school students about their career opportunities and my education experience. It was so exciting to speak with the students and have them share their dreams and ambitions, whether that be on or off the island. These kids had a strong drive to make a positive change for themselves, their families and their community which was really good to see. It is so important for these kids to put their education first to empower these positive changes for the future. It is so important that these kids realise that they can achieve anything they put their mind to!
Palm Island is such a beautiful place and the community was so welcoming on my arrival and during my stay – everyone you would walk past would smile and say hello. I loved meeting new people and hearing their stories of growing up on the island. I definitely enjoyed exploring the island and its hidden treasures in my down time. The Bwgcolman people are so incredibly lucky to call this little piece of paradise their home.
I will be forever grateful for this experience. It was a great opportunity to gain further insight into the challenges faced by both indigenous communities and health care professionals in remote locations. I cannot thank my clinical educator, Neroli, enough for sharing her extensive clinical and cultural knowledge and supporting my growth as a physiotherapy student.