Sandy Kelly; Kuranda, QLD

18 June 2012

Welcome to MY WORLD as Coordinator, North West Isolated Care (NWIC), Frontier Services QLD - 1993-2001

Sandy Kelly StoryThe first time I applied for the above position I was unsuccessful. Twelve (12) months later the position can up again and I reapplied telling the interview panel at my interview that ‘if I was not successful this time I would be back again’!  A couple of days later I rang Frontier Services from a telephone box in Cloncurry to hear the results with all my fingers and legs crossed as I head Greta Howard say ‘CONGRATULATIONS’ you were successful. Leaping out of the phone box running down the street yelling I have won…An elderly man said, ‘have you just won the lottery love?’ - ‘no just the best job in the world’ I was the happiest lady in the universe.

Looking back through the many hundreds of photos I had taken from my eight years as coordinator of NWIC and reading my monthly reports I marvel at all the achievements we (my staff the best team in the world) had achieved during that time. Flexibility, thinking laterally, stepping outside our comfort zone and not be afraid to challenge the boundaries of the bureaucratic world,  would have to be the key factors to our success in assisting the ‘frail aged and younger people with a disability’ to be able to remain in their homes and home lands till GOD called them home. When a government department would say to me ‘you can’t do that’ it was like waving a red flag in front of me, making me more determent to achieve what I was setting out to do. NWIC covered an area twice the size of Victoria from north to Mornington Island, south to Birdsville, east to Nelia and west to NT boarder.  

So many amazing charters and so many stories have cemented their images into my memory.

Clarky: who featured on TV with me and many times in Frontier Services magazines! He told the tourist world at a full Mc kinley pub (Crocodile Dundee), “I would be back as I left my nickers behind’ after I had attempted to cleaned his little humpy. I left some old underpants of my flat mate behind just in case Clarky may want to continue cleaning.

Old Wally: who lived in a shell of a caravan till I brought him an old DMR caravan got it done up and then towed it all the way to Burketown to be greeted by a smiling face of an old frail man who thought he had just won the lottery with his NEW home.

Jody: who suffered from Battens disease and lived with her loving family on a remote station! NWIC assisted in the care for Jody the whole eight years until her final days of life. I was asked to present a paper at the ‘World Batten Disease’ conference in Orlando Florida USA on our care of Jody. I was so proud to be able to tell her story and representing Frontier Serves.

Judy: who requested to be at home (a remote station) for the remainder of her life, which was very short! It was important to Judy to be able to see the land which she loved so much, hear the birds singing, feeling the wind blowing her along her way where her family could be around her in a familiar place! NWIC certainly stretched the boundaries of service delivery then as it was the wet season. We had to charter helicopters to bring in the palliative care Dr Nikkie Blackwell from Mt Isa also a volunteer carer who lived at the station the whole time assisting the family in delivering of 24 hour care.  I was asked to present a paper at the “World Palliative Care” conference in Oslo, Norway and once again I felt so proud to be able to tell everyone my story. I was told I stunned and amazed the whole audience and received many beautiful comments.

I read in the Frontier Services newsletter the story about Nissan. I averaged around 70.000 klms a year resulting in receiving a new Nissan Patrol each year. All my Nissans were called ‘Suzie”. And her name was printed on the side with the number she was. I got to Suzie 8. Everyone knew all about my Suzie’s…

I designed NWIC logo, which took many hours of drawing then asking people what they thought of it before it became official.  Many times I was asked to run workshop at conference or present a paper about my work with NWIC. I clearly remember how frightened I felt when I told ‘My Story of NWIC’ to an audience of 1.000 people at the inaugural state Home and Community Care (HACC) conference in Brisbane.  When I finished there was dead silence then everyone stood up and clapped.  All I could do was cry, feeling so proud to be able to play a small part on the big picture of Frontier Services..

NWIC worked very closely with Wendy & Simon Strut (remote area families) the late Rev Don kube (flying padre), RFDS Mt Isa, clinic nurses in the community health centres in all the communities we visited and Mt Isa Base Hospital. We were all part of a big team caring and looking out for each other especially when out in the field.

NWIC was lucky enough to be featured on TV twice, ‘ABC 7.30 Report’ and ‘The Midday Show’. Brady Hall and a film crew from ‘The Midday Show’ followed me around for three days out in the field meeting many clients and seeing the beautiful, but harsh, baron and remote part of far Western QLD sometime the forgotten parts of our land. The crew said it was such an eye opener for them all, but enjoyed it very much. Kerry-Anne Keenly introduced me to the Australian TV audience as a ‘middle aged divorce Mum’ better known as ‘The Outback Angel”.  WOW- that certainly made me feel old!!!!!

Congratulations Frontier Service for reaching 100 years of caring and service delivery in the remote and isolated parts of our great country. See you all in September…

Sandy Kelly
May 2012