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Build 'Em Up

Health & Wellness Podcasts

Our Build ‘Em Up podcast features upbeat local community experiences & inspirational rural health stories to help build the health & wellbeing of rural, regional & remote communities around Australia.




Our Build ‘Em Up podcast features upbeat local community experiences & inspirational rural health stories to help build the health & wellbeing of rural, regional & remote communities around Australia.





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Episode 29: Locals taking care of locals

‘Senior citizens are the backbone of a town and important for social cohesion. They are not data but living, breathing people who have value. We need to make sure that they age in dignity,’ said Lesley Bryce, Founder of Bell Cares, joining our podcast in episode 29. Bell Cares, on Queensland’s Western Downs, assists seniors to access Home Care Packages. They listened to the needs of their community and created an innovative model of care for their ageing population. Employment of local people is crucial for their in home care services. Bell Care partners with Trilogy Care to provide services and Mable to manage their workforce. Bell Cares is a perfect example of how a small community has launched an innovative model that works for their rural area.


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Episode 28: Encouraging cultural competence

“When a farm man or woman comes into an ED with a chest pain, ‘how long have you had it ’, is an important question,” says Susan Brumby, Clinical Professor of the Faculty of Health, School of Medicine at Deakin University. “Often they have continued to work or do things before coming in,” she added. Professor Brumby joins us in Episode 28 of Build ‘Em Up to speak about the importance of health professionals’ cultural competence to deliver the best health outcomes for farm people. She speaks about the risks and challenges of farming, along with its great beauty, the autonomous nature of farm work and its impact on health and wellbeing. Professor Brumby is the Founding Director of the National Centre for Farmer Health and an Associate Editor of the Australian Journal of Rural Health. She has made significant contributions to research and service delivery methods for engaging farm men and women in discussion about their health, wellbeing and safety. Professor Brumby has received numerous awards recognising her contribution to rural health and has attracted over $3 million in grants and service delivery funding. In 2005, she received the Department of Human Services Award for outstanding contribution to rural health and in 2006, a Victorian Travelling Fellowship. In 2009, she was recognised with the Victorian Regional Achievement and Community Career and Trade Development Award.


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Episode 27: Bouncing forward

In Episode 27 of Build ‘Em Up, we chat to Matt Linnegar, Chief Executive of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation. He talks about the need to redefine the word ‘resilience’ for rural communities; to go beyond the meaning of ‘bouncing back’ to ‘bouncing forward’ that gives room to imagine their own future. Matt is a Fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Program and the first Fellow to lead the organisation. He was the Chief Executive Officer of the National Farmers’ Federation and has had roles with Murrumbidgee Irrigation, Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia and the then Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation (now MLA). He has also been on the board of the Telstra Foundation, Agribusiness Australia and The Leadership Network. Matt has worked for 30 years in primary industries, advocacy and leadership and calls rural and regional Australia home.


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Episode 26: Doses of resilience

In Episode 26 of Build ‘Em Up, we chat to Timmy Duggan, Founder of Hoops 4 Health. Born and bred in Darwin, Timmy was the first person from the Northern Territory to play in the National Basketball League (NBL), and the only Indigenous Australian to play in the NBL during the 1990s. Hoops 4 Health combines basketball skills and health activities. It encourages young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people to focus on their health and wellbeing. It also aims to build resilience among young people through their engagement in sport. Hoops 4 Health interacts with the young generation through a culturally informed approach by combining scientific knowledge with First Nations experiences. Timmy has been honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia for his volunteer work on the Hoops 4 Health initiative.


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Episode 25: Addressing inequity differently

In Episode 25 of Build ‘Em Up, we chat to Dr Alison Kennedy, Director of the National Centre for Farmer Health. Dr Kennedy is a behavioural scientist who has lived and worked in Victoria’s rural farming community for almost two decades. Her expertise in rural farmer mental health and suicide prevention has drawn on a range of innovative techniques, including digital interventions, digital storytelling, community education programs and peer-support models. Dr Kennedy has led numerous farmer mental health projects and works collaboratively with researchers, farmers and industry stakeholders across Australia and internationally. Her expertise has been recognised through research awards, numerous advisory roles, peer-reviewed publications, international research consultation, invited presentations and expert witness testimony before the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. Dr Kennedy is passionate about co-designing research, education and services in collaboration with the community and industry. Build ‘Em Up, which is supported by nbnTM, is available on your favourite player or listen online here.


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Episode 24: Supporting the ‘whole’ child

In Episode 24 of Build ‘Em Up, we chat to Caitlin Breheny, Founder and Director of Connect Paediatric Therapy Services, an inter-, multi- and transdisciplinary allied health service that has seen a major increase in demand in the remote Pilbara and Kimberley regions of Western Australia. With a background in early intervention and disability as a speech pathologist, Caitlin identified a disturbing gap in allied health services for families in the most isolated regions of Australia. Being exposed to the inequality families have endured and the impact poor service delivery has had on families and children’s quality of life, Caitlin became determined to build an innovative service model for our most vulnerable and geographically isolated communities. Connect Paediatric Therapy Services was recently awarded the health category of the Innovate with nbn grants program, in recognition of its innovative service delivery in rural and remote regions.


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Episode 23: Beneath an orange sky

In Episode 23 of Build ‘Em Up, we chat to Judith Meiklejohn, Senior Impact Manager, First Nations Communities, at Orange Sky Australia. Judith has a background in public health, health research, development practice and oral health, and has been working with rural and remote Aboriginal communities for over 15 years. Judith’s core role involves creating partnerships with community-controlled organisations to provide essential services and a safe space for connection, with the aim of improved wellbeing of the whole community. The key benefits of an Orange Sky remote service are the creation of employment opportunities, workforce development and culturally appropriate access to an essential service. Judith is adept at engaging and building strong relationships with a range of key stakeholders in communities across Australia. Involvement in internal and external research and program evaluation related to Orange Sky’s program activities is a key aspect of Judith’s role. The mission to positively connect community and foster relationships underpins her impactful work.


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Episode 22: A stage for rural young people

In Episode 22 of Build ‘Em Up, we chat to Sarah Parsons, the Creative Producer and CEO of Outback Theatre for Young People (OTYP) in Deniliquin. OTYP engages with young people from regional and remote communities to create distinctive contemporary theatre through collaborative processes. The projects create an inclusive and supportive creative environment, where young people have the opportunity to give voice and value to their ideas and promote their health and wellbeing. Most of Sarah’s arts practice to date has been dedicated to arts in counter-urban areas, and she is fiercely passionate about theatre for young people, community-driven work, advocating for regional based practice and sustainable arts engagement in remote and regional Australia.


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Episode 21: A passion for rural

In Episode 21 of Build ‘Em Up, we chat to Dr Jennifer (Jenny) May, Director of the University of Newcastle Department of Rural Health. Jenny oversees the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) Program in North Western NSW, the Tablelands and on the North Coast. Complimentary to her UONDRH position, Jenny maintains an active clinical practice. She is engaged at a local not-for-profit GP practice dedicated to improving rural health options through recruitment and training. She was Chair of the National Rural Health Alliance from 2008 - 2011 and remains engaged with multiple stakeholders to enhance the rural health workforce. Jenny is a proud rural resident. Within her local community, she volunteers on community activities supporting and mentoring students to be involved in community capacity building projects. She is a regular contributor on both radio and local TV, providing public health and general practice perspectives and health information. She has featured on ABC's "the Drum" and ABC 24, presenting on both local and more national workforce issues.


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Episode 20: Supporting mates bogged in the bush

In Episode 20 of Build ‘Em Up, we chat to Mary O’Brien, founder, director and CEO of Are You Bogged Mate?, a charity that helps country men talk about mental health and suicide. Mary is a passionate advocate for agriculture, was raised on the land and has worked with, for and beside country men - most importantly, she knows how to talk to them! Are You Bogged Mate? connects country men with lifesaving support services and enables prevention and early-intervention for mental health and wellbeing. This episode discusses mental health and suicide – if this brings up concerns for you or someone you know, we highly recommend Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.


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Episode 19: Creating a village for rural mothers

In Episode 19 of Build ‘Em Up, we chat to Stephanie Trethewey, founder of Motherland, about her journey as a mother and how she became passionate about supporting rural mothers across Australia. It takes a village to raise a child, but according to Stephanie, it can be a challenge to find that village in parts of rural Australia. Motherland, therefore, is an online platform for rural mothers craving social connection and emotional support through the seasons of motherhood.


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Episode 18: 16th NRHC delegate feedback

In Episode 18 of Build ‘Em Up, we hear from delegates to the 16th National Rural Health Conference (NRHC), held on 2-4 August 2022 in Brisbane, on their motivations for working rurally, as well as their suggestions to improve rural health service delivery. We hear stories of courage and resilience, and the strong partnerships built to improve rural health care accessibility. Thank you to all speakers for their suggestions and for highlighting that bridging health care gaps needs strong commitment and comprehensive strategies. Following are the speakers in Episode 18: Andrew Coe, CEO Western NSW Primary Health Network; Lucy Bliss, James Cook University; Dr Kim Houghton, Regional Australia Institute; Dr Joan van Rotterdam, Australian Chiropractors Association; Prof Sabina Knight, Central Queensland Centre for Rural and Remote Health; Alynda Wayman, Manager, COVID-19 Vaccination Program, GV Health; Dr Helen Roberts, Clinical Director, GV Health; Prof Julie Satur, University of Melbourne Dental School; Marianne St Clair, Managing Director and Senior Research Fellow, Simbani Research; Vicki Wade, Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia; Erin Ferguson, Paediatric RHD Clinical Nurse Consultant, Queensland Health; Dr Richard Colbran, CEO NSW Rural Doctors Network; Joyce Tan, Royal Flying Doctor Service; David Lim, Curtin University, School of Population Health; Mike Stephens, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation; Baneen Alrubayi, National Rural Health Student Network; Nicola Murphy, National Rural Health Student Network; Josephine Canceri, Western Sydney University, School of Medicine; Kara Milne, NT Health; Christine Giles, Portland, Victoria.


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Episode 17: A modern voice from the bush

In Episode 17 of Build ‘Em Up we chat to Annabelle Hickson, founder and editor-in-chief of Galah magazine. Annabelle is on a mission to change the narrative about rural living, celebrating the beauty, opportunity, creativity, cultural diversity and community that thrives outside of our major cities. We discuss the importance of this cultural shift in relation to the recruitment and retention of a high-quality health workforce in rural Australia.


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Episode 16: Aboriginal Community-Controlled Art Centres – Keeping Elders Strong and Connected​

Episode 16 of Build ‘Em Up is guest hosted by Jennifer Ganske, National Tourism and Arts Head at NBN. She chats to Paulene Mackell from the National Ageing Research Institute about the “Art centres supporting our elders” research program, looking at the impact of the Community Controlled Art Centres model of Indigenous Art Centres on connectivity and health and wellbeing.


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Episode 15: A sporting chance for everyone

In Episode 15 we chat with Nicki Bardwell, CEO of Fair Game. Fair Game has been around for over 10 years and delivers unique health and fitness programs and pre-loved sporting equipment to remote and under-serviced communities around Australia, predominantly in WA.


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Episode 14: Happiness in a box

In Episode 14 we chat with Emma Sullings, founder of the Happy Boxes Project. This charity provides toiletries and beauty products to women and girls in remote parts of Australia. Their network of coordinators in remote communities help to ensure “happy boxes” of personal care items reach those most in need.


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Episode 13: Dairy cows and mental health

In Episode 13 we chat with Sallie Jones and Steve Ronalds, co-founders of Gippsland Jersey. Gippsland Jersey is giving dairy farmers a fair gate-price for their local milk and supporting farmers’ mental health. This episode includes discussion of mental health issues, so if it raises any concerns for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.


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Episode 12: Speechy building rural digital health hub

In Episode 12 we chat with Kylie Toynton, a speech pathologist from Gunnedah in north-west NSW who is building a digital service – with the support of an nbnTM Innovate grant – to offer synchronous online allied health therapy and training packages for parents, teachers and schools.


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Episode 11: Gowning up to support rural doctors

In Episode 11 of Build ‘Em Up we chat to Bendigo GP Kirby White who responded to the COVID-19 PPE crisis by hand-sewing protective gowns to give to doctors free of charge, and then setting up her initiative Gowns for Doctors. This was on top of being recently married and establishing her own GP practice just as the pandemic hit Australia. Kirby is yet to find the time to arrange a honeymoon!


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Episode 10: It’s OK2SAYNO this festive season

Are you dreaming of a healthier festive season? In Episode 10 of the Build ‘Em Up podcast we catch up with Shanna Whan, the founder of Sober in the Country. Almost single-handedly, Shanna is leading the conversation about alcohol addiction in rural Australia and is working flat strap, day-in and day-out, to change the culture of drinking in the bush through the campaign, it’s OK2SAYNO to an alcoholic beverage.