“For our communities out here, we talked a little about the mental health fallout that always happens after any type of crisis in any type of community.
And very much here, we are just continuing on with usual business … and everything’s different, you know, it’s probably compounded by the fact that you’re a long way away from the cities when you’re in a place like Mount Isa or in the north west.
They were very respectful, they allowed us to give our cultural protocol in terms of acknowledging Kalkadoon people, the land which we work on and also where we were doing the interview from.
“It was a really great, relaxed interview.”
Gidgee Healing CEO and registered nurse Renee Blackman said despite having COVID-19 “at the doorstep”, she was able to convey to the Royals that it was almost business as usual in the Indigenous communities.
With Renee were North West Hospital and Health Service registered nurse Leeona West and First-year practitioner and registered nurse with Gidgee Health and North West Hospital and Health Service Tahnia Ah Kit
While the care they give to the local community may be akin to royal treatment, nurses and staff at Gidgee Healing in Mount Isa never thought they would be chatting live to the Her Royal Highness Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and the Countess of Wessex Sophie.
- Three Mount Isa medical professionals spoke to two of the Royals
- The chat was mostly about COVID-19 protocols and struggles
- The video conference was held Tuesday on International Nurses Day
On International Nurses Day, the Duchess and Countess held a conference call with the north west Queensland nurses to ask what life has been like since COVID-19 changed the way nurses practice all over the world.
While Mount Isa and the north west have no cases, the nurses who work predominantly with Indigenous community members were able to share their experiences with the Royals.
Gidgee Healing chief exceutive and registered nurse Renee Blackman said it was not all smooth sailing — initially they thought the call was on Monday so they showed up 24 hours early.
“We were very, very nervous,” Ms Blackman laughed.
“We suddenly had to be nervous for a whole other 24 hours.”
Ms Blackman said despite having COVID-19 “at the doorstep”, she was able to convey to the Royals that it was almost business as usual in the Indigenous communities.
” What a day! 13 interviews later! Our deadly CEO Renee Blackman, RN Tahnia Ah Kit and RN Leeona West from NWHHS have been extra busy today being interviewed world wide by our news channels and radio stations! What an amazing and humbling experience for these three deadly ladies! Time to wrap it up today for these local celebrities!
Nurse Leeona West was on the video call alongside Ms Blackman and said the experience was something she was not likely to forget.
“They were just like normal people, like you watch Kate and she’s just so real and true and that’s what she was like — very caring,” Ms West said.
First-year practitioner and registered nurse with Gidgee Health and North West Hospital and Health Service Tahnia Ah Kit said since starting her career this career she never expected to be speaking to the Royal Family.
“It was an amazing opportunity to be recognised and appreciated as an Aboriginal registered nurse,” she said.
Blackman said the chat was a great opportunity to showcase the hard work of Indigenous health care workers, especially in remote areas.
Gidgee Healing has been incredibly busy working to keep coronavirus away from communities in Queensland’s north. Indigenous Australians have been told they are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 due to underlying health issues such as diabetes, rheumatic heart disease and kidney disease, conditions they’ve been forced to battle since colonisation.
“Geography is our friend this time, usually it isn’t when it comes to accessibility,” she said.
“If it gets into our communities it has the chance to devastate and decimate.”
Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services across Australia have been one step ahead of protecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities from the virus with strong messaging, education and preparation.
“People now understand how to take precautions and how to be cautious,” Blackman said.