Seated in the middle of Parliament House for the 2023 National Rural and Remote Health Awards, Bega Valley general practitioner Corin Miller and principal Viv Chelin from Eden Marine High School held their breaths as the awards were called out.
When the final award of the night was presented and Dr Miller was named rural and remote health professional of the year - her table and the one beside her, filled with professionals from the Southern NSW Local Health District, erupted with applause.
"I was so excited I'm pretty sure I danced my way to the stage," she said.
Eden Marine High School's Djing.gii Gudjaagalali Kids Clinic and Dr Miller had been listed as finalists in four categories. The clinic being nominated for rural remote health innovator of the year and rural remote multidisciplinary collaboration of the year.
Meanwhile Dr Miller had been nominated for the remote health advocate of the year, as well as rural and remote health professional of the year.
Dr Miller said the awards ceremony on November 13 had been a surreal and humbling experience as she got to meet inspiring health professionals from across the country.
"All the finalists and their stories were being read out and it was incredible to hear about the work happening in rural care. It was humbling as well to know we had been finalists in four categories," she said.
"When the presenters talked about the clinic it was easy to be inspired because of all the incredible people involved but when they started reading information just about me, I just blushed the entire time."
The presenters and award commended Dr Miller for her work at the clinic in setting up a new model of care for the region, bringing care closer to home for rural families that previously had to travel long distances to acquire paediatric services and early intervention and commended for her the ways she worked with other providers in the region to make services more readily available.
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"Across rural Australia children can wait more than two years to access a paediatrician if they're deemed to have a non urgent condition like mental health, developmental, behavioural or learning concerns and that to me, as a mum, it an injustice," she said.
"So essentially my PhD is looking into innovative models of care that can help bridge that gap in the rural context."
Dr Miller said the award helped offer the legitimacy and recognition for all the work they'd been doing at the clinic, which would help raise the profile on the need to build more capacity and services in the likes offered at the Djing.gii Gudjaagalali Kids Clinic in Eden.
"I think every rural town should have a similar clinic because we've proven that having clinics like ours, increases efficiency in the health education system," she said.
"Having access to a clinic like this and a well being in-reach nurse means that if a child needs specialist care they can access it closer to home, which also makes the whole health system work better."
"I want to specifically acknowledge our well being in-reach nurse Nicole Bax and the school principal Viv Chelin who have been instrumental to the success of our project," she said.
"I'd also like to thank Rural Health Pro for creating the inaugural National Rural and Remote health awards because its helped create an incredible platform where we can really spread the word about good projects happening in rural health care."
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