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Meet the Northern Territory’s inspirational health professionals

Meet the Northern Territory’s inspirational health professionals

The Northern Territory’s most outstanding primary health care workers have been recognised at the NT Health Professional of the Year Awards.

The Awards, run by NT Primary Health Network, were presented last night at the Compass Conference gala dinner at the Darwin Convention Centre.

A record 80 nominations were received for the 2022 Awards with workers hailing from all regions of the NT including Darwin, Tennant Creek, Nhulunbuy, Ramingining, Katherine, Maningrida, Pintipi and Uripunga.

2022 NT Health Professional of the Year Award Winners

The 2022 recipients are:

  • RACGP GP of the Year: Dr Alan Kerr (Remote and Rural GP, Miwatj)
  • AMSANT Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner of the Year: Chris Rankine-Johnson (Top End Health Service, Pine Creek)
  • Nurse and/or Midwife of the Year: Rebecca Way (School Nurse, Tennant Creek Primary School)
  • CDU Allied Health Practitioner Health Practitioner of the Year (Joint Winners): Alexandra Murrell (Speech Pathologist, Carpentaria Therapy Services) and Elaine Jaeschke (NT Health, Community Allied Health Team, Katherine)
  • AGPAL Primary Health Care Support Person of the Year: Anita Petersen (Mala’la Health Service – Aged and Disability Services)

“The Health Professional of the Year Awards recognise health professionals who go the extra mile to improve the health and wellbeing of Territorians,” said NT PHN CEO, Gill Yearsley.

“We have an incredible community of hardworking health professionals in the Territory, particularly in our remote Indigenous communities, and these awards are a chance to celebrate those individuals.

“We received some amazing nominations across all sectors and regions of the Territory including dieticians, remote GPs, Aboriginal Health Professionals, nurses working in schools, midwives, occupational therapists, and primary health support workers.

“To hear how these people are changing the lives of everyday Territorians was inspiring to all.”

The winner of each category receives a $1000 voucher to put towards professional development.

More information on the 2022 winners:

RACGP GP of the Year:

Dr Alan Kerr (Remote and Rural GP, Miwatj)

Dr Alan Kerr has been described as an incredibly hard-working GP who has a holistic and compassionate approach to Indigenous and remote health. In times of uncertainty and high pressure, Dr Kerr provided teams with reassurance and a feeling of safety. He is described as a natural mentor and happily imparts his wisdom to all students and junior staff, no matter their discipline. During the Territory’s initial experiences with COVID-19, when communities and services were experiencing fear and uncertainty, Dr Kerr did not withdraw from the Territory, but rather sought to support as many vulnerable communities as he could.

AMSANT Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner of the Year:

Chris Rankine-Johnson (Top End Health Service, Pine Creek)

Over the past 12 months, Chris has worked tirelessly to ensure the Pine Creek Community were well engaged with health services, hosting BBQs and community meetings on his days off to discuss the risks and benefits of COVID-19 vaccinations. He provided the community with much needed reassurance, practical assistance, and comfort measures. He also took opportunities to develop and implement other primary and preventative health care initiatives, including a program assisting diabetic patients to effectively manage their medication. Chris has helped raise school attendance in the community and his engagement with local families has led to increased health checks, health literacy and immunisation rates.

Nurse and/or Midwife of the Year:

Rebecca Way (School Nurse, Tennant Creek Primary School)

As a School Nurse for Tennant Creek Primary School, Nurse Bec is described as so welcoming and understanding that students and educators actively seek her wisdom, kindness, care, and knowledge.

Her efforts in preventative care and positive health messaging are raising health literacy in the next generation around mental health, drugs and alcohol issues, sexual health and respectful relationships. During school holidays, when she should have been on leave, she threw herself into COVID-19 response efforts, separating herself from her husband and children for the sake of her community.

CDU Allied Health Practitioner Health Practitioner of the Year: Alexandra Murrell (Speech Pathologist, Carpentaria Therapy Services)
Alex has a strong commitment and passion for providing speech pathology services to several remote indigenous communities across the Northern Territory. She has developed a remote assessment resource package that is culturally sensitive and incorporates a range of visual tools that support people and their families to share their life story, talk about their concerns in an open but culturally safe manner. She also helped develop a Vocational Engagement framework, with the aim of supporting people in remote Indigenous communities to explore employment opportunities.

Elaine Jaeschke, Team Leader for the Community Allied Health Team in Katherine

Elaine has had a distinguished and extraordinary 35-year career with NT Health. She has touched the lives of clients, families, staff, service providers and communities across the Big Rivers region. Elaine has held many roles where she has directly influenced the allied health services provided to Big Rivers Region, including advocating for and achieving the first Occupational therapist and Speech Pathology positions, delivering the first electric wheelchair and developing the Katherine Region Aged and Disability Services. Through her work she has championed the delivery of on-country services.

AGPAL Primary Health Care Support Person of the Year:

Anita Petersen (Mala’la Health Service – Aged and Disability Services)

Anita goes above and beyond for clients, both in the residential services and in the community. She volunteers her time on her days off to take clients and community members to get panadas, dig for colours and collect mud mussels and ensures they can attend cultural events. Her big heart not only benefits clients, but staff as well. Everyone receives a birthday cake; she has a lovely happy disposition, and it is not unusual for her to collect firewood for staff and their families. She is a natural mentor and is generous with sharing her energy and enthusiasm for her community and life.

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