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Making Health Better
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Health Worker Nanette dedicated to improving her community’s health

Nanette Sands grew up as the youngest of 11 siblings in Yarrabah, an Aboriginal community about 50 kilometres from Cairns. It was here where she first discovered her passion for community health.

With a desire to close the gap in health inequalities for Indigenous people, Nanette is currently undertaking further education to enhance her skills, knowledge, and experience.

She is studying a Certificate IV in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Healthcare Practice at TAFE Queensland North, funded by Northern Queensland Primary Health Network.

Nanette says this course will boost her past education and previous experience working as an Advanced Health Worker at Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service in Yarrabah. Previously, she has led chronic disease management programs, initiated palliative care and medical officer home visit services, delivered cultural awareness training for nurses visiting the region, and provided health education to community members.

“I want to learn how to work better with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community,” Nanette said.

“They place their trust in us, and it’s important that we can break down the medical information into a language they understand.

“Studying this course means I can be qualified in working with this community, increase my health and medical knowledge, and gives me the opportunity to network with other like-minded Health Workers.”

After the tragic passing of her husband to cancer in 2015, Nanette needed a change of scenery and moved to Palm Island, working her way up to a Level IV Health Worker position at Joyce Palmer Health Service.

“When my husband passed I needed some time for myself, and I wanted to experience other places, how other health services operate, and the chance to meet new people,” she explained.

“Gaining my certificate has opened up the possibility for me to travel and work in different communities and have these experiences.”

Nanette is enjoying getting to know her new community on Palm Island, and has continued her health passion, developing chronic disease care plans, providing education on the importance of attending appointments, offering support for questions and enquiries, and conducting remote community visits.

Nanette is looking forward to the Joyce Palmer Health Service moving into its new building, scheduled for completion by the end of 2018, where she can use her education to continue to make a difference to the people of Palm Island, and help the community to live happier, healthier, and longer lives.