Here’s my hand, Here’s my heart
– Uncle Ron Marks
Welcome to Country – RNH AGM
No one could deny that 2022-23 was a challenging year for the Rural Northwest Health teams with Board Chair Genevieve O’Sullivan, addressing guests at the December 12 AGM, describing the combination of COVID, service closure, and staffing expenditure as having led to a “turbulent year”.
Uncle Ron Marks and his son Will performed a traditional Smoking Ceremony and Welcome to Country, before Mrs O’Sullivan welcomed the 50-strong crowd.
Touching on a few key points from the year, including the challenges COVID presented and the closure of Hopetoun Acute Care, she also paid tribute to, and thanked, the teams for their “all hands on deck” approach during the challenging year.
Mrs O’Sullivan made mention that for the first time in a long time Rural Northwest Health now has a fully staffed executive team, before handing over to Executive Manager Finance and Administration Hendrik Barnard who delivered the finance report.
Touching on an increase in agency staff expenditure, Mr Barnard was quick to assure all that the organisation remains in a sound financial position.
Marking almost 12 months at the helm, CEO Jenni Masters then took to the floor to deliver the CEO report. Joking that she has yet to get used to the wildlife that venture onto the Australian roads, and that she’s also on snake watch, Ms Masters thanked all for the warm welcome she had received within the community.
Stating that although 2024 will “likely continue with significant financial challenges”, Ms Masters was proud to announce that the past year had seen Rural Northwest Health working hard on building its capacity, and that it’s now in a good position, having employed 60 people across the past year.
“Health is about people,” Ms Masters said.
“We have invested a huge amount of energy in recruiting and bringing a positive culture to the teams,
“We also have plans to continue collaborating with local organisations to find health solutions for our communities. There will also be an increased focus on improving the organisation’s finances over the next 12 months,” she said.
Commenting that she is “honoured to be the CEO of such an amazing team”, Ms Masters touched on some of the events that had welcomed and celebrated diversity throughout the year, including a multi-cultural cricket match and lunches, announcing that RNH will be attending the Midsumma Pride March for the first time in 2024.
In closing, she shared a Māori phrase which translated to “Our strength is not made from us alone but made from many”.
Welcoming new executives Paula Noble (absent) and Joseph Bermudo to the team, Mrs O’Sullivan invited Mr Bermudo to share his story.
Previously working in Edenhope, Mr Bermudo said it was role autonomy which initially attracted him to the Rural Northwest Health role as Executive Manager Clinical Services, and that he enjoys seeing smiles on faces, and the positive impact that is being made.
Commenting that Rural Northwest Health is “well-placed” in trying to recruit people, Mr Bermudo believes the organisation will continue to be the employer of choice for the region, and that he thinks it will be able to reach great heights.
Returning to the floor, Mrs O’Sullivan presented Hopetoun-Beulah Reference Group member Prue McCredden with a certificate of appreciation in recognition of Prue’s 10 years of service, before thanking all for their continued support of RNH, and wishing a wonderful, safe and joyful festive season.