Nurse on a mission!

St Paul’s, Rutherford, parishioner Sue Bartlett has embarked on a two-year mission in Kiribati through Palms Australia. After applying in 2017, Sue was prepared for this challenge at the orientation course in January.

“Sue is a well qualified and experienced nurse who came highly commended by her colleagues,” notes Palms Executive Director, Roger O’Halloran. “They emphasised her resourcefulness, character strength and deep practical faith. We saw these qualities ourselves, along with her infectious humour!

“In Kiribati, Sue will be based in the outer islands, working as a nurse in schools. She will address students’ health needs, provide preventative health education and raise community awareness of nutrition and hygiene. Most importantly, Sue will mentor local nurses, fostering their strengths so services continue beyond her placement.”

Kiribati is on the frontline of climate change but many other challenges face the country. Health and poverty are closely interrelated in Kiribati. While health care is free, access is limited, especially on the outer islands. Diminishing farm land means there is more dependence on preserved imported food. Diabetes, obesity, gout, heart disease, stroke and cancer are prevalent.

Illnesses relating to poor water quality, sanitation and hygiene are also increasing, with more than 35,000 cases reported annually. Alcohol and substance abuse too is rising, signalling a need for improved access to physical and mental health care and education.

Sue will assist by addressing the immediate medical needs of students and community members. In addition, she will provide preventative health education to increase awareness around nutritional eating, hygiene issues and health risk factors across the community.

Living in the community will enable Sue to understand and respond to the health issues affecting the rural people. Her presence will also assist community links with the existing limited health services on the Kiribati outer islands. “Given Sue’s professional expertise and experience, combined with her empathy and sense of community, we have every confidence of success in her placement”, says Roger.

To learn more about Sue’s work, support her placement or volunteer, visit or P 02 9560 5333. Palms Australia has been committed to strengthening communities for over 55 years in 39 countries.

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Kevin Wilson

Kevin Wilson is a Communications and IT Officer, Palms Australia.

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