Emma Quinn photoEmma Quinn was awarded $2500 by the Australasian Epidemiological Association to cover her flights and accommodation at the University of Notre Dame in Broome.

Ngaji Gurrjin! The placement with the Kimberly Population Health Unit (KPHU) came about because of my connections with Prof Jeanette Ward (a public health physician now with Nirrumbuk Corporation) and Ashley Eastwood (KPHU, WA Country Health Service). I took my long service leave to volunteer myself as a visiting epidemiologist with KPHU for 8 weeks during August and September – the best time of year in the Kimberley!! Living on Yawuru country and during this two-way learning opportunity, I further deepened my insight into remote health service provision, particularly partnerships with Aboriginal people and also enjoyed sharing my skills in epidemiology. I hope the staff of KPHU enjoyed the chance to be supported 1:1 to build skills and capacity in surveillance, epidemiology and report writing. In particular, I gave a weekly series of tutorials on the principles and practice of epidemiology, with practical sessions in Excel. I also learnt a great deal from listening to and working with the staff of KPHU, who are all very experienced clinicians and field workers in public health. I gained the most personal and professional insights from working in several communities with KPHU staff on the WHO Trachoma screening program in the east Kimberley.

On a more academic front, Prof Ward also obtained approval from the ABCD National Research Partnership to access de-identified quality assurance audit data on treatment and care of Aboriginal people with ARF/RHD in remote communities across Australia. In collaboration with an Aboriginal health researcher from the University of Sydney and two other epidemiologists, we analysed these data using multiple linear regression to identify system level factors empirically associated with higher levels of clinic delivery of secondary prophylaxis for clients with ARF/RHD. We found that the clinic’s “systematic processes of follow-up” were significantly associated with adherence to secondary prophylaxis. The results of this study have been written up into a peer-reviewed journal article for publication.

Aside from the professional development, the Kimberley region has some of the most amazing, wild and unique country in Australia and it was a privilege to visit and experience it! The country, culture and people all made my time in the Kimberley one of the most fun, inspiring and rewarding trips I’ve ever done in my life! If anyone out there is considering this type of placement, I would be happy to have yarn with them, please feel free to contact me. Galiya Mabu!!

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