'Stay With Me' program supports allied health in FNQ

Outback Futures staff remotely helping clients in remote Queensland.

The tyranny of distance in the Australian outback creates a deficiency of physical support, allied-health support, emotional support and general practical resources.

Outback Futures is a response to this huge need and service deficit identified in remote Far North Queensland in terms of allied health and social / emotional issues. They run a series of Mental and Allied Health Clinics in various locations across rural and remote Queensland, offering a comprehensive range of mental and allied health services (psychology, counselling, physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, early education and literacy services).

These individual sessions are offered in conjunction with health and life-skills seminars, and supported through their “Stay With Me” program, which provides ongoing counselling and allied health consultations via phone or Skype to ensure continuity of care.

Outback Futures Ltd received a $10,000 Tackling Tough Times Together (TTTT) grant, funded by the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, to provide remote assistance to established clients in the Croydon, Etheridge, Flinders and Richmond Shires in Far North Queensland. The grant subsidised services provided by Outback Futures’ registered psychologist and learning and literary specialist, who delivered 590 “Stay With Me” hours over a four month period.

While the inadequate and problematic quality of Skype (and at times even phone services) in these remote areas made connecting with their clients challenging, Wayne Middleton, former CEO and current Director of Outback Futures said that the TTTT grant enabled these families to access the therapeutic and educational support they needed, both in crisis situations and for ongoing issues that would not otherwise have been available to them.

“Individuals made significant measurable improvements in their literacy and learning results and scores, even across that short space of time. Their level of commitment was outstanding, and they regularly attended their sessions, despite significantly increased workloads and commitments on their properties due to drought.

“We’ve affirmed the hypothesis that if appropriate services were made available to these families in ways that fit with their isolated and unique living circumstances, they would be utilised with commitment, with little or no occurrence of cancellations. The families were very dedicated to implementing programs and suggestions,” he said.

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