Neuros flying visit to talk all things brainy

Neuros flying visit to talk all things brainy

Fourteen medical practitioners attended the June CPD event in Emerald to keep up to date on cervical or lumbar radiculopathy and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Dr Jason McMillen, Dr Martin Wood and Dr Jason Papacostas (pictured above), from Brisbane Clinical Neuroscience flew into town to deliver an information filled “A patient with a cervical or lumbar radiculopathy & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome” workshop.

The feedback on this training was overwhelmingly positive, with practitioners vowing to increase the use of diagnostic tools, provide patients with better information, implement additional conservative management and make use of their newfound knowledge to give their patients high quality care.

In addition there were comments focussed on the excellent opportunity to refresh & update knowledge whilst working in rural areas.

If you missed out on the Emerald event and are anywhere near Biloela on  Saturday 10th of August go along and hear from Dr Jason Papacostas and Dr Martin Wood who will be  delivering the workshop from 9.30am -12pm.

The learning outcomes for the workshop are listed below

  1. Understand the basics of spinal anatomy and radicular syndromes.
  2. Understand the clinical and radiological assessment – key indicators, confounders and ‘red flags’ of spinal anatomy and radicular syndromes.
  3. Identify treatment pathways, both surgical and non-operative, of spinal anatomy and radicular syndromes.
  4. Understand symptoms, differentials and investigations of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
  5. Identify the treatment options available for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

To register for this workshop, click here.

Dinner and a Chat: Emerald Student Networking Event

Dinner and a Chat: Emerald Student Networking Event

On the 8th of May 2019, CQRH in conjunction with Emerald Plaza Pharmacy organised a student networking dinner in Emerald. We had 15 people attend – 6 students (5 medical students and 1 pharmacy student, coming from different universities), along with CQRH Board Members & Staff and other pharmacy staff.

This dinner was a great opportunity for the students on placement in Emerald to network, discuss rural placements and share their experiences. All the students had wonderful things to say about Emerald. This dinner also gave us the opportunity to speak to the students that are currently staying at the houses that CQRH manage in Emerald.

On behalf of CQRH we would like to thank Jess Burrey and Emerald Plaza Pharmacy for the sponsorship of the dinner. We appreciate your support!!

President’s Report April 2019

President’s Report April 2019

As I am writing this report, I am pleased to reflect on the progress our organisation has made over the first few months of 2019.

The CQ Suicide Prevention Program is moving forward, with community plans now at the implantation stage. As a separately financed sub-project, CQRH was able to secure funding from the Tackling Regional Adversity through Integrated Care program (TRAIC) to enable and enhance community wellbeing in the Banana Shire. The outcome of this was the training of fourteen Banana Shire residents to deliver CALM Suicide Prevention workshops. These trainers have committed to delivering suicide prevention training to the community. The first of these workshops took place on April 7th in Biloela. CQRH is now looking to train members of the Livingstone community to deliver training within that region. We have also been approved as a Suicide Prevention Training Provider by the PHN.

The Central Highlands Suicide Prevention Leadership Group and their community have managed to secure funding from the federal Government for a ‘Headspace Centre’ in Emerald. A ‘Headspace Centre’ will be an invaluable resource for the community, providing early intervention for 12 to 25year-old’s in four key areas – mental health, physical health, social and vocational support, and alcohol and other drug use. The passionate and successful campaign was certainly a credit to the community.

As part of our continuing support for community wellbeing, CQ Rural Health has been employing mental health clinicians to support people with severe and persistent mental illness for some time now. Earlier this year, one of our mental health clinicians, Gillian Hickey, resigned. Fortunately we were able to secure the services of a Mental Health Social Worker in Biloela and a Mental Health Social Worker in Rockhampton, both providing essential services to their towns and surrounding communities. This community project is now fully staffed; however we are still recruiting for a mental health clinician for Gladstone. We are also hoping to recruit a community midwife to the Whitsunday area.

RHMS has secured a contract for a community nurse in Rolleston for 6 hours per week, from the PHN, via the ‘Live Better’ program. This will provide an ongoing economic basis for services in Rolleston.

The Baralaba GP practice gained a second doctor in March. Dr Keshminder Singh is an experienced hospital doctor of 8 years and is training for GP via the ACRRM pathway. He is most welcome and will allow a more comprehensive service generally and regular outreach services to Wowan.

Flinders Medical centre in Cloncurry. Pictures from during the renovation are on the left, pictures taken after the renovation are on the right.

The renovations to Flinders Medical Centre in Cloncurry are now complete. This will allow the practice to increase Allied Health Services, procedural GPs and accommodate an Intern rotation. Our sincerest thanks to Glencore and the Ernest Henry Mine.

The disastrous floods which devastated parts of northern Queensland put stress on medical services in Julia Creek. Our doctors and staff stepped up to the mark. Whilst GP numbers where down due to the impassability of roads, psychological and counselling services were in demand. CQRH assisted two social workers, Szilvia Virag and Alice Hodges, to relocate temporarily to Julia Creek for the emergency and the aftermath of the floods. The volunteer social workers were from Victoria and New South Wales. All team members went above and beyond, coping admirably.

CQRH is delighted to announce the Rural Health Scholarships for 2019:

  • Alexander Belonogoff (Medicine)
  • Jacob Firth (Biomedical Science)
  • Samuel Romagnolo (Medicine)
  • Imogen Storey (Exercise Physiology)
  • Jane Surman (Physiotherapy)

We wish them all the very best in their studies and rural practice.

Finally, TOPICs, your portal to all things CQRH and RHMS is going online and we are administering a TOPICs blog. To find our blog, visit our website at There are a number of new sections on the blog, including a place where you can contact us. Please participate and tell us all things good & bad about CQRH and its subsidiary RHMS, and how we can improve our representation and services.

Continuing in our pursuit of excellence and sustainability in rural health.

John Evans
President CQRH


Wheel of Wellbeing Rolling Ahead

Wheel of Wellbeing Rolling Ahead

Our Wheel of Wellbeing Coordinator, Angie Horchner, is working hard to build up the Wheel of Wellbeing Hub in the Banana Shire.

The Wheel of Wellbeing is a framework, informed by international research and positive psychology, which can assist you to increase your capacity for happiness. By outlining simple and easy strategies that you can implement every day, the WoW framework is an excellent tool for helping us all to be happier, healthier and more mentally resilient. The Wheel of Wellbeing (WoW) teaches simple techniques to promote wellbeing, using a positive psychology approach.  WoW has a holistic approach, focussing on body, mind, spirit, people, place and planet.  Facilitators are taught to adapt the techniques to suit their community – the people, the place and the resources they have available to them.

The Central Highlands Mental Health Wellbeing Hub, in partnership with CQRH, facilitated a number of successful workshops in Biloela last year. The Banana Shire Hub was established late last year and recruitment of new members is ongoing. The Wheel of Wellbeing Hub is not only centred around community workshops and interconnection, but on an ongoing community drive to educate people on how they can improve their own mental wellbeing. The approach includes: building on current capacity to bring together information on the assets already in the community that support mental health and wellbeing in the local area, and developing strategies to raise awareness of these supports; gathering information directly from the community about the current levels of wellbeing; identifying what more could be done to ensure long term good mental health and wellbeing; and effectively communicating this information to appropriate audiences.

A key part of this project is to develop capacity in individuals in the local community to actively participate in each of these elements.This means that we need volunteers who are passionate about their community. There is no formal agreement for volunteers in this project and they are able to facilitate community activities that make them happy when they have the time. We are also looking to partner with individuals and organisations that can provide resources. These resources can be something as simple as cut off bits of old ribbon. If you are interested in getting involved, please click here. No experience is necessary, just eagerness.

There are a number of workshops and community wellbeing activities being planned for the year. For more information on the ones currently being advertised, click here. Wheel of Wellbeing volunteers and facilitators are also happy to attend other community events and deliver wellbeing activities. If you would like more information about this, please email Angie at

Angie has been continuing her own professional development as a Wheel of Wellbeing facilitator by attending workshops in Brisbane. She also been liaising with other WoW facilitators, hubs and the mental health commission to share ideas and experience. She has also been networking with local organisations to share with them what would be the immense benefits to their organisation of a workforce and community which is happier and more resilient. If you think your organisation could benefit from this framework, or would like to partner in community wellbeing activities, please contact Angie via the email above.

Now the groundwork is almost complete, it is time to kick this project into gear and roll on forward!


Banana Shire residents keep CALM and learn suicide intervention skills

Banana Shire residents keep CALM and learn suicide intervention skills

Over the weekend, members of the Banana Shire community came together to learn how to have life saving conversations with someone who may be contemplating suicide.

It was a CALM one-day workshop delivered by CQRH’s Project Officer, Deirdre Fagan-Pagliano, and Jillian Mouzouris, who owns GrassRoots Living Room in Biloela. Both women generously volunteered their time to deliver the free training.

CALM stands for Connect, Ask, Listen and Monitor. It’s an evidence-based, easy to implement suicide intervention program developed in Australia. It outlines how to help a person find hope and empower them to change their thinking and plan for a future.

I attended the workshop and, though it was confronting at times, it was a powerful experience which has already helped me connect and listen to the people in my life. We were taught how to ask questions and really encourage someone in pain to talk about and share that pain, then how to empower them to grab hold of hope. I am now confident I can talk to someone who is considering ending their life and conduct a positive intervention. It is also clear to me just how important this training is. I firmly believe that this training will save lives and I encourage everyone to participate in something like this.

The workshop was also met with overwhelmingly positive feedback from the other participants.

“Great practical training that empowers people to have potentially life-saving conversations and myth busting the stigmas around suicide.” Fiona Hayward

“Practical application, clear guidelines!! Awesome training.” Mayuri Gosalina

Thanks to the funding CQRH received from the Queensland Government’s TRIAC Fund and the Banana Shire Council as well as donations from local businesses: First National Real Estate Biloela, Westpac Biloela and the Silo Motor Inn, fourteen local community members were trained to deliver this program to the Banana Shire. There are several workshops already being planned, you can find out more about them here. CQRH would also like to encourage workplaces, organisations, sporting groups or even social groups who would like to participate in this training to contact us.

Remember, preventing suicide is everyone’s business.

For help or information call Lifeline: 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467, beyondblue: 1300 22 4636.

Bright Future for Rural Medicine

Bright Future for Rural Medicine

Congratulations to this year’s winners of the CQRH Scholarship for Rural Health: Jane Surman, Imogen Storey, Alexander Belonogoff, Jacob Firth, and Samuel Romagnolo.

The CQRH Scholarship for Rural Health began in 2016 and to date the organisation has invested over $30,000 toward undergraduate students that are studying a degree in a health related area. The selection panel were impressed by the calibre of the applicants this year and are confident that the future of rural health is in good hands. Applicants outlined their vision for rural health, their passion for their profession and articulated their career aspirations. In the case of all five of the successful applicants, their passion for rural and remote medicine shone through in their applications and gave the board a renewed sense of optimism.


Jane Surman

Jane Surman

Jane is in her third year of study for a Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Hons) at the University of Queensland. She is passionate about physiotherapy, and particularly passionate about working with the elderly.

“I have a particular passion for the elderly population who are often disregarded and their difficulties overlooked as a part of ageing. Of course there is a natural decline in the body with age, but with strength, balance and aerobic exercise their quality of life can be enhanced and prolonged well beyond the limits of ‘old age’. I cannot wait to be able to improve the quality of my patients’ lives and hopefully encourage them to live a long, active life.”

Jane’s ultimate dream is to open a specialty elderly clinic in Central Queensland.

“I would love to increase the confidence in my patients for them to be able to continue the activities they loved doing when they were a bit younger. I know with my own Grandma, she would never go to the town gym or pool through sheer fear and embarrassment. This is why I would them to have their own exercise areas that they feel safe and comfortable in to increase their treatment compliance and get them involved in their own rehabilitation.”

Congratulations Jane, we hope to see your dreams come true.


Imogen Storey

Imogen Storey

Imogen is in her fourth year of study for a Bachelor of Clinical Exercise Physiology at the University of Queensland. She certainly got us thinking about exercise in a new light with her passionate description of how it can benefit patients.

“Exercise prescription can help those with chronic pain, clients awaiting or post surgery, cancer patients, people with mental illnesses, people with cardiac and metabolic conditions and the list goes on… Exercise is the new medicine. Exercise is for everyone.”

Imogen also plans on improving rural health services in Central Queensland by providing outreach services which include both community and home visits.

“When meeting in a communal space (eg. Town Hall or Park) and running a group class, I am able to reach a larger percentage of the community and create a social event to strengthen town spirit. Additionally, by initiating home visits, I would be able to not only keep clients accountable (other than routine check ups over the phone) but would also be able to depict how clients can fit exercise into their daily routine using resources in their own home.”

Well done Imogen, your passion for exercise is inspiring… and even a little motivating!


Alexander Belonogoff

Alexander Belonogoff

Alexander is studying a Bachelor of Medicine/ Bachelor of Surgery at James Cook University and is currently in his third year. He has a strong vision for rural health services: a workforce not in shortage, and he is already working to make it a reality!

“This year I have been tasked with the role of Rural High School Visit Coordinator for [the James Cook University Rural Health Club] RHINO. My goals for my time in this position are to contribute to improving rural health workforce numbers by setting up a rural high school visit structure that will inspire High School Students to embark on a career in health and inspire university students to choose a career in rural health.”

Alexander spoke about his recent four-week placement in Moura before sharing his career goal of becoming a GP.

“I found the variety of presentations during my four-week placement astonishing, from heart attacks to dog bites, broken bones to emphysema and late-night brawls to pregnancy emergencies just to name a few examples. My career goal is to practice in a similar setting to Moura as this is the medicine that excites me, the medicine that I grew up with and the medicine attracted me to the profession in the first place.”

Alexander also shared his plans to complete further training in either obstetrics and gynaecology or sports and exercise medicine.

Excellent work Alexander, you were an impressive applicant and we look forward to following your career.


Jacob Firth

Jacob Firth

Jacob is completing a Bachelor of Biomedical Science and is currently in his second year at the University of Queensland. He wants to see rural health services align closely with those offered by our cities.

“I envisage leaders in health sciences working directly and in collaborative partnerships, applying the best cutting edge technologies to provide residents with first-class health care…. I see rural researchers pushing forward technologies that benefit those in rural and remote areas of Queensland. I want to be an active contributor to the improvement of rural health services in Queensland and encourage like-minded colleagues to take the challenge and do the same.”

Jacob is passionate about rural medicine and is looking towards his future.

“After a year at university, I have witnessed first-hand the many, different rewarding career options medicine has to offer including general practice, specialisation, and research. All these options excite me. Perhaps most appealing and challenging is to return to rural Queensland to practice as a rural generalist. I am eager to assist in the provision of excellent services in remote, rural Queensland.”

We know you will succeed in whatever you do, Jacob. Congratulations.


Samuel Romagnolo

Samuel in Kalkarindji next to monument marking the site of the handing back of Gurindji land.

Samuel is in his second year of study for a Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery at James Cook University. He has been inspired by a recent placement in remote Northern Territory.

“I was selected to undertake my placement in the remote Aboriginal community of Kalkarindji in the central Northern Territory desert. It was a truly surreal experience, being placed in such a location, and seeing the effects that the social determinants of health have on the population was staggering. Witnessing the poor health and living conditions in the community has inspired me to one day work in such a community and attempt to close the gap – something that will drive me through my studies.”

Samuel’s career goal is to be a rural generalist… and a good one!

“I have only recently learned of the rural generalist pathway and was instantly attracted to it, the reason being is that I desire a higher level of training in a position that will best equip me to serve the community that I will eventually find myself working in. I have taken a particular interest in Indigenous health conditions since the beginning of my degree, and I wish to further this interest by integrating my knowledge into future practice… I will strive to become a personable and compassionate doctor, and aspire to one day have excellent rapport with my patients.”

Congratulations Samuel, you clearly understand what it takes to succeed in rural medicine.


Congratulations again to all five applicants and best wishes for the future. We are happy to invest in rural and remote medicine through you and we know that you will do great things.