Early Career Torres Strait Islander Physiotherapist working for Torres & Cape Hospital & Health Service

Ms Betty Mareko1

1Queensland Health, Thursday Island, Australia


Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service Northern Sector (TCHHS-North) have one permanent senior physiotherapist to provide services to 16 islands of the Torres Strait and 5 communities within Northern Peninsula Area. The pathway to becoming a senior physiotherapist can take up to eight years which can allow a time to get comfortable in a regional or metro lifestyle and potentially decrease the likelihood of any prior thoughts of working in a rural or remote area. A great way to improve retention in rural and remote areas is to recruit early career professionals and provide generalist development and experience. TCHHS-North has been fortunate in gaining an early career physiotherapist as part of the Allied Health Rural Generalist Training Position for two years. This rural generalist position in TCHHS-North has been filled by a Torres Strait Islander physiotherapist who relocated from private practice in a regional town. Many changes have been identified from regional to remote and for this health professional it includes general changes however also personal changes as a Torres Strait Islander who is able to speak the local language and understand cultural practices.

-General work changes

Private practice > Public

Musculoskeletal > Rural Generalist

Regional > Remote

One manager  > Organisational structure

Home visits > Outreach

-Changes as a Torres Strait Islander working in the Torres Strait

Patient perception on physiotherapy > Health professional one of their own

English language > Torres Strait creole

Immediate family > Extended TSI family

Seeing patients outside of work as an islander


I graduated from James Cook University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Physiotherapy. My grandparents originate from Yam and Yorke Island of the Torres Strait. I grew up with the dream of moving to the Torres Strait Islands to assist in Closing the Gap. Following graduating in 2015 I knew it would take time to become a senior before being able to apply for my dream job. I worked in private practice for one year before the AHRGTP became available on Thursday Island. This position has enabled me to enter the job I have always dreamt about whilst being an early career health professional and allowed me to assist my people towards Closing the Gap