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RDN supports Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services with COVID-19 vaccine rollout

27th September 2021

Awabakal Medical Service has received a boost in its capacity to administer COVID-19 vaccinations with the placement of three additional Registered Nurses recruited through NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN).   

The nurses have been involved in pop-up vaccination clinics which have administered hundreds of COVID-19 vaccinations to the Hunter Region’s Indigenous community. 

Aboriginal Engagement Manager Nicole Turner receives COVID-19 vaccine at pop-up clinic

Pictured: Kamilaroi woman Nicole Turner receives COVID-19 vaccination at a pop-up clinic staffed by RDN-placed nurses.

"These nurses are making a real difference to the number of vaccines we can deliver each day to our community and are a critical component of our COVID-19 response,” says Awabakal Medical Service CEO Ms Raylene Gordon. 

Awabakal Medical Service is an Aboriginal community-controlled health service (ACCHS) delivering culturally-appropriate primary health care services across Lake Macquarie, Newcastle, Port Stephens and the Lower Hunter. When COVID-19 cases spread to NSW’s rural areas, Awabakal reached out to RDN’s Aboriginal Engagement Manager Nicole Turner, expressing an urgent need for additional health staff to rapidly increase vaccination levels in Aboriginal communities.  

Within 48 hours RDN was able to send through a number of nursing candidates for consideration. Awabakal Medical Services responded to the selection almost immediately and lined up interviews with short listed candidates within days. Being a larger service, they were able to bring in additional resources to ensure administrative requirements didn’t result in delays, and Awabakal health staff could continue to focus on their core activities. 

According to RDN’s Recruitment Services Manager Chris Anderson, the key to the success of the recruitment was Awabakal’s reactivity and thinking outside the box.  

"In a candidate-tight market, a quick response is everything. Every health professional you are considering recruiting right now will also have another five to ten organisations out there pursuing them, so you need to be swift and you need to be professional,” he explains. 

“Awabakal was the perfect partner to work with, responding quickly to all communications and taking the initiative to find ways to manage the process time-effectively," he added. 

In response to requests such as these for an agile health workforce able to mobilise quickly, RDN has opened its COVID-19 (Delta) Workforce Response Register and is now seeking Expressions of Interest from both health workers who can provide placement or telehealth support, and practices requiring additional or replacement workforce coverage. The register is currently prioritising health workers and health administrators who can provide on-the-ground support to Aboriginal Health Services (AHS) and primary care practices with vaccine rollout; however, this may evolve in the coming weeks. 

“We are here to support the rural health workforce both now and in the future. RDN has a long history of responding to community need and our recruitment services are able to adapt to difficult crises like these – both during the acute phase and on the long road to recovery,” says Chris Anderson. 

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