Meet the team: Wade

What is your role at RFW?

Hi, I’m Wade and I’m the Telecare Coordinator Team Leader at Royal Far West.

In its simplest form, our ‘Telecare for Kids’ program provides speech, occupational therapy and psychology therapy services for children, schools and families who live in rural and remote Australia via video link (similar to Skype/FaceTime). The program provides these children with opportunities which they otherwise may not have been able to access, because of where they live.

What do you do?

My role includes overseeing the day-to-day activities of the Coordination Team, clinical resource utilisation, account management, engaging communities, technology testing and training, quality improvement and everything Telecare. I am directly responsible for the support in service delivery of more than 80 concurrent Telecare clients from 24 schools and early learning centres across varying rural and remote communities such as Narromine, Peak Hill, Wagga Wagga and Bundaberg.

Although the Telecare Coordination Team is one of the smaller teams within RFW, it is responsible for providing support to one of our largest and fastest growing programs. The team dynamic is one of youth, resilience, persistence, patience, motivation and passion. We all take play a part to keep  the Telecare sessions running smoothly. This includes everything from onsite and remote technology support to schedule creation and relationship management.

What changes have you seen?

I have been at RFW for almost three years, and during this time we have gone from delivering 150-160 sessions per week to more than 500! Our clinical teams – Speech, Occupational Therapy and Psychology – have all needed to grow to enable this level of service to children in rural and remote areas. Notably, the Speech team has always been the biggest in terms of numbers, however the biggest growth I have seen is in the Occupational Therapy and Psychology teams. This highlights the growing need, awareness and importance surrounding mental health and emotional regulation.

What led you to work at RFW?

This is a very interesting question for me. From my very first day back in January 2017 I have been making the trek across Sydney from the sunny Sutherland Shire to the Northern Beaches of Manly, taking the four-hour bus, train and ferry for the  commute each day. People ask me “Why do you do it?” and the simple answer is, I do it for the kids. It’s hard for me to imagine that there are children and families in rural and remote Australia who are unable to access the developmental care they need when they need it, simply because of where they live.

Being the first point of contact for rural and remote families, I see and hear a lot of the challenges these families face in accessing services. Most just want their child to have an equal opportunity to learn and grow at the same pace as their peers. In turn, working within the Telecare For Kids program, I have learnt a lot about the socio-environmental (travel, access) and socio-economic (cost) barriers that have previously prevented families accessing such services and the varying ways these barriers can be overcome.

I have a very strong belief in preventative health care and by working for an organisation that specifically targets preschool and primary aged children it was a perfect fit. I am proud to be involved in such an innovative approach to preventative health care.

 What’s the best thing about working with families from rural and remote Australia?

It’s hearing the differences between ‘city life’ and ‘country life’. I am able to connect and build relationships with families and individuals who have a very different life to mine, and I love that. I feel lucky to hear stories about where my oranges and mandarins come from, to how tight-knit these small towns are and even “how the tractor dug up the internet cable”.

What do you think makes RFW unique?

Three things come to mind. The team – their dedication and passion is second to none. The location – beach side. The vision and direction of the organisation.