Life for nurse Sue Barlett is about to become very different.
This month, the 66-year-old from Rutherford will be making the move from the Hunter to a remote community in the Pacific island of Kiribati.
Health and poverty are closely interrelated in Kiribati.
While healthcare is free, access is limited, especially in remote areas.
Westernisation of the average Kiribati diet, as well as reduced access to clean water and lack of education around sanitation and hygiene has contributed to a nation-wide health crisis.
Sue will be volunteering for the next two years in the outer islands of Kiribati through overseas development agency Palms Australia.
Sue will work in various schools in the area to help improve the health of Kiribati’s young people by treating and caring for students who are unwell.
Sue will also use her years of healthcare experience to increase awareness around nutritional eating, hygiene issues and health risk factors.
Unlike many of the short-term ‘voluntourism’ programs that have recently gained popularity in Australia, Sue’s work in Kiribati will be building the health, skills and capacity of locals to reduce their dependence on overseas aid.
The health knowledge and skills she will share with students, teachers and the broader community will continue to improve the wellbeing of the community, long after she returns home to the Hunter.
Hunter residents interested in finding out more about Sue’s work in Kiribati, supporting her placement or signing up to volunteer themselves can do so by visiting Palms Australia’s website at https://www.palms.org.au/donate/current-projects/