As a dedicated telehealth provider, Therapy Connect has a workforce based around Australia. We especially love having geographically remote practitioners on our team as they deeply value the role that technology plays to increase access to a range of goods, services and employment. We are very proud that Occupational Therapist, Sarah Lang has joined the Therapy Connect team. Sarah is based on one of the MOST remote Australian locations possible – Boigu island, QLD. Technology is enabling her to both access employment and to support other equally remote clients. Welcome to the team Sarah!
Life on Boigu Island
When I moved to Australia from Scotland around 10 years ago, my family thought I had moved as far away as possible. That was of course until, my husband posted to teach on Boigu Island, the most northerly island in the Torres Strait and only a few short km to Papua New Guinea! Now I really am a long way from home! We had been living a pretty great life – we lived in Northern NSW, just across the border from the beautiful Gold Coast. But like many families, we were living the typical life/work/kids juggle My husband is a primary school teacher and had a 2 hour commute each day and I worked in the community as a paediatric Occupational Therapist. Pre-kids, we loved to travel and both have an adventurous spirit so remote teaching was always on our radar so while the kids were 2 and 4, we decided that it would be a great time to apply for a transfer. We both had the frame of mind that if we were going to move remote, we might as well go all in and have as much of a cultural experience as we could. So number one on our application was the Torres Strait. You cannot however choose the island that you get selected and we were allocated Boigu, with a population of around 200. Well we did ask for a remote location! We had mixed reactions from people, some thinking we were crazy, some thinking it would be an incredible opportunity – even our removalist said “see you in 3 months” but we were optimistic and knew we would make it a rich, memorable experience for our family.
Even getting there was an adventure. Flying in on the 6 seater plane, right behind the pilot, looking down over the islands was pretty spectacular and upon landing, we were greeted with a sea of friendly faces and immediately felt at ease. The locals have welcomed us into their community with open arms and their sense of community spirit is so refreshing and special to be a part of. My biggest concern as a mum, moving to such a remote place was of course healthcare. I knew there was a small health centre on the island but a chopper is needed for any hospital care. Luckily in 5 years of being a mother, I had only needed to go to the hospital once. However 20 minutes after landing, after an exhausting day of travel, I heard a thud and knew that my daughter’s wrist was broken, after she had fallen off the monkey bars at the local park. My heart sank as I assumed we would need a helicopter back to Thursday Island (where we had just come from) to the nearest hospital. 5 minutes later, we met the local nurses at the health centre and the fly in doctor who happened to be there. We were then whisked out the back door……to the x-ray room. I couldn’t believe it. Within an hour, she was x-rayed and all casted up, with no chopper needed. My worry about their health in that moment vanished, I knew we were in safe hands.
Island life for us is simple and uncomplicated. We have certainly left the life juggle behind and have regained so much time. I can see my daughter’s classroom from my balcony and my husband’s commute has gone from 2 hours to 2 minutes! Barge day is the most exciting day of the week, which brings food to the only shop on the island and also any online packages that we may have ordered! We take a walk daily to the ocean to see if we can spot Jason, the local crocodile that can be seen patrolling the waters!
Living in a Torres Strait community has allowed me to develop my cultural awareness and we feel very privileged to be living on such a culturally rich island and have been enjoying learning some of the language and the traditional customs. Boigu is very remote with limited services available on the island, therefore I can see how beneficial and supportive services such as Therapy Connect can be to remote communities and families. Therapy Connect has provided a wonderful opportunity for me, both to continue my work as an OT but also making a positive impact on the families that may otherwise be unable to access services they require.