Outback Futures Enews: September 2018
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You may think it unusual to have local councils get involved in a mental health round table, and by normal standards it probably is... Yet just recently we had the local Central West Regional Councils (in the form of the Remote Area Planning and Development Board), together with the West Queensland Primary Health Networks hosting skillfully facilitated, ‘frank and fearless’ discussion around the strengths, deficits, needs and challenges of the current service provision in these regions.

It is a powerful dynamic to have local councils proactively recognising the crucial role that mental health plays in the strength, resilience and productivity of a community at every level from children, through to families, businesses and general infrastructure. As you can see from the piece of diagram above, this event gave us creative ways of getting a snapshot of every provider, what they offer, what they are working towards and how collaboratively we can develop a more unified “Team Central West”.

Outback Futures are excited to be part of this process of making a difference that is effective and cohesive.

It is never an easy process to challenge ourselves, whether as individuals or as organisations to honestly question what we do and how it impacts on those around us but I as CEO, and we as an organisation, are challenged to ensure that we are following through on what we espouse are our priorities and are accountable for the processes that go with that.

We are committed to being client-centred, bush informed and offering people a safe and accessible chance to explore what mental health support and well-being is all about. Thank you for journeying with us in this commitment.

Selena Gomersall


Tuesday 4th September 2018 saw the newly commissioned team warmly received in a very dry Winton for a two-day clinic with a team comprising  two counsellors, a clinical psychologist, a speech therapist and an occupational therapist, ably led by our co-ordinator and supervisor, Louise and Wendy. The goal was to build on foundational relationships established during an ‘engagement’ visit at the end of July, with stakeholders in the Shire Council, Winton State School, the Neighbourhood Centre, Little Swaggies childcare centre, St Patrick’s School as well as several business owners and operators. The town is certainly getting to know us and our trademark uniform!

We were delighted to be able to work with some middle and senior high school students in helping build positive life skills through group work, whilst our occupational therapist and speech pathologist were able to assess and progress many connections. Time was also spent getting alongside the resilient business owners and staff in the town as we commence this journey of partnering with the Winton community into the future.

As always, local accommodation was very comfortable indeed, with good food, gorgeous sunrises and friendly brolgas to greet our day. The famous Tattersalls pub was the hub of the town and we enjoyed two amazing meals with the biggest, tastiest steaks on offer in QLD!

As always, the ‘value add’ of casual encounters along the way cannot be measured and so we all look forward to the fruit of the seeds sown. 

Pauline Guthrie

Team Profile: Zac Jessup 

Outback Futures welcomes the newest member of the Outback Futures team. Zac joined us on our recent clinic in Winton and will be our regular OT in that region.

Zac completed his Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) degree in 2012 at the University of South Australia. Zac worked initially in an adult community mental health setting for a year 

before moving into paediatrics in 2014. Zac worked in a private practice with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and various developmental delays. He also worked in an aquatic therapy program completing one on one water based sessions for children with ASD. 

Zac relocated to the Gold Coast in 2015 to pursue his interest in working with children. When he is not on clinic with Outback Futures, he works with our good friend’s at Grow On Children’s OT. Zac brings a calm, fun manner to the sessions enabling the children to have an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. 

We are thrilled to have him on the team!

I was fortunate enough to have attended the SARRAH conference (Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health) in Darwin earlier this month. It was an incredible opportunity to connect with other allied health professionals with a similar passion for service in rural and remote Australia.
Presentations that particularly sparked my interest were teams who had quantified the discrepancy between service provision in metropolitan areas and more remote locations. In particular, David Wellman from Health Workforce Qld conducted a survey assessing perceived workforce gaps identified by practitioners and managers in different regions in Queensland. The results found workforce gap ratings increased with remoteness.
Another presentation, by Fergus Gardiner from the RFDS, depicted the dramatic difference in provision of allied health workers between metropolitan and rural or remote areas.

Outback Futures was built upon an anecdotal understanding of these gaps, made through personal connections with community members. It was extremely valuable for me to learn that people are working hard across the country to quantify these gaps and validate the need for services just like ours. With evidence-based funding models across the country, the growing literature base brings hope for future grant applications.   
I am extremely grateful to Southern Queensland Rural Health, a University based government organisation, for giving me this valuable opportunity. 

Laura Healy
Clinic Coordinator
Ilfracombe fire

In mid June, the Outback Futures team was in Longreach when the a fire destroyed the Lyceum Hotel. Our team joined locals in witnessing the great work of the local firefighters.

This past week a fire has ravaged the only general store in the town of Ilfracombe: 

Many of us living in the city have access to multiple stores from where we can shop. You can understand how the impact of these fires, on top of the ongoing drought, have such a deep and far-reaching impact on the local community. Our hearts go out to all those connected with these events.

Local stories like these are important to Outback Futures. We value understanding everyday events that take place in small communities because they contribute so significantly to the overall wellbeing, whether positively or negatively. We love to connect remote communities to city dwellers by telling their stories and we want to encourage Queensland to take an interest in what’s going on with our Outback Family. We are also reminded of the immense privilege we have to invest in Outback communities by delivering mental and allied health services to help bring hope during such challenging seasons.

Rhys Tregenza
Business and Operations Manager


We have had a significant response to our headline article in our last e-news surrounding our Chairman Peter Whip’s locals perspective of funds raised for the drought. We thought it was worth quoting again here for those who may have missed it:

I’d like to put the hay bale donation stories into perspective:

Donating $1,000 towards hay for stock would buy around 2-3 tonnes of hay in Longreach.

Feeding that hay to say 100 cows and calves would last 3-4 days or certainly less than a week.

In comparison, donating $1,000 towards the work of Outback Futures can provide a full 6 months of counselling/emotional support for a family to help get farming families into a resilient head space and make good drought management decisions.

Most agricultural advisers stress the importance of planning for drought conditions when times are good, but it is even more important to plan when times are tough (such as during a drought) for the next production opportunity i.e. when the seasons come good.

While I don’t want to disparage work that other organisations are doing in the hay donation space, Outback Futures is focussed on supporting families and communities. We want to help build resilience in communities, businesses and families so that our outback communities have a strong base for their future. We see this emotional and family support as being a long-term solution that will strengthen outback families going forward.

If you would like to find out more about how you can support Outback Futures then please contact us at, or if you would like to donate now then please head to our website (, or donate here: 

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