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Sam’s
Story

In Australia we pride ourselves on giving everyone a fair go.

But the reality is, we have a widening gap in developmental healthcare services in rural and remote regions that is disadvantaging our country children and communities every single day.

One of these children is Sam. Sam is six years old and goes to school in a small remote town in North Queensland.

When Sam started school last year, she was unable to speak in sentences. Because she struggled to express herself, making friends and joining in with the other kids’ games didn’t come naturally and was often left out. She quickly became withdrawn, didn’t want to go to school and struggled to communicate with her teacher or classmates.

Sam’s mum Michelle knew something wasn’t quite right with how her daughter was developing. She suspected Sam needed additional support, but she wasn’t sure how to determine which services she needed.

After speaking with their GP and Sam’s teacher, Sam was added to a waiting list to see a speech pathologist, but it was likely to be months or even more than a year before Sam would have the initial appointment.

Even then, the speech pathologist was located over a hundred kilometres away, making regular therapy sessions almost impossible to get to.

The distance and time it takes to reach appointments often means regular, ongoing therapy is out of reach.

Because there are so few health professionals living in rural communities, those who do have practices are left to service a population five times the size of their city counterparts.

And unlike their city colleagues, their client base is rarely within the local area. Their client families are often spread across an area of hundreds, and occasionally thousands of kilometres wide.

In many ways, the healthcare system is just not compatible with rural and remote communities.

Our Telecare for Kids program is a game-changer for communities like Michelle and Sam’s. It connects children across regional and remote Australia to allied health services via video-link, directly into the child’s home or school, removing the barrier of distance for country families.

Sam was enrolled in the Telecare for Kids program from the beginning of Term 2 last year, and over the next six months, received weekly therapy sessions with a speech pathologist and occupational therapist. Within those six months, Sam’s communication and gross motor skills improved immeasurably.

“I received an emotional call from her mum just a couple of weeks ago – Sam had been invited to her first birthday party and has started to make friends and join in more in the classroom. Michelle was absolutely over the moon! This time last year, this seemed unimaginable.” Tayla Iellamo, Occupational Therapist

But there are families and communities right across Australia who are suffering because they just don’t have access to local developmental health services.

With your kind support, more country children like Sam will begin to have the same access to services and care that city kids have.

* To ensure privacy and confidentiality for our client families, our stories are representative in nature and real names or images are not used.

Please donate today to give more country kids the same opportunities as their city peers – the chance to thrive and reach their full potential.


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