Local hero banishes isolation

RFDS Local Hero has social isolation in her sights


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The Royal Flying Doctor Service 2017 Local Hero, Lesley De Landelles, outside her place of work in Jericho. Photo supplied.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service 2017 Local Hero, Lesley De Landelles, outside her place of work in Jericho. Photo supplied.

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Jericho – a tiny dot on the Capricorn Highway between Emerald and Barcaldine – is about to undergo a communications revolution, thanks to its local community nurse.

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Jericho – a tiny dot on the Capricorn Highway between Emerald and Barcaldine – is about to undergo a communications revolution, thanks to its local community nurse.

Lesley De Landelles has wasted no time in making the most of being named the 2017 RFDS Local Hero and the accompanying $5000 grant donated by Ergon Energy Retail, and when she’s done, she hopes social isolation among the small central Queensland community’s older generation will be no more.

Thanks to the support of the Barcaldine Regional Council and Jericho State School principal, Bea Holmes, a plethora of technology is being made available to teach residents how to Skype, send emails, use social media apps, do online banking and shopping, access government services, and post on Instagram.

With a population of 110 people and almost no shops, Lesley realised going downtown shopping was not a feature of town life.

“Social isolation is pretty prevalent in communities that don’t have public transport, and a lot of people’s families have moved away because of drought,” Lesley explained. “The whole town realises what this means and is pulling together on this.” 

Computers at the school are being used for initial training, and eventually a council revamp of the post office, which includes the installation of computers and free wifi, will provide an access point for the town’s tech-savvy seniors.

Lesley said the Royal Flying Doctor Service accolade had been a career highlight for her, both in highlighting that the work she did was appreciated, and to help her feel like part of an extended family.

Since the advent of telehealth and telephones, she’s only felt a phone call away though, saying that doctors can see her patients and diagnose them on the big screen.

“Receiving this award has been a real tribute to the Jericho community,” she said. “It’s thrown a spotlight on the town and it might just be a little bit more important now.”

It might be even more important if all the “quiet achievers” Lesley has identified are given the same accolades as herself.

Lesley De Landelles receiving her award at the RFDS Wings for Life gala ball in Brisbane last year. Photo supplied.

Lesley De Landelles receiving her award at the RFDS Wings for Life gala ball in Brisbane last year. Photo supplied.

Lesley hung up on phone call win

Lesley De Landelles remembers vividly the day she learnt she had been named the inaugural RFDS Local Hero.

“I had a big emergency and I was struggling to keep someone stable,” she recalled.

“It was quite stressful and I’d asked for ambulance backup.

“The phone rang and someone said they were from the RFDS. I replied, it’s not you I need, it’s the QAS.

“They had to ring back later and give me the good news.”

It’s a story that highlights how necessary people like Lesley are to the health network in the bush, and why the Royal Flying Doctor Service is keen to acknowledge all those people who have rolled up their sleeves to help the service with its life-saving work.

The RFDS Local Hero Awards have launched across Queensland for a fourth year. Nominations are open to April 6 and can be made online.

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