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10 December 2012

Pilbara physio wins statewide health award

A physiotherapist who travelled to the Pilbara for six months and is still there after 33 years has won one of Western Australia's most prestigious health awards.

Carol Simpkins, a senior physiotherapist with WA Country Health Service's Pilbara Population Health team, received the Rotary Allied Health Professional of the Year Award 2012 recently.

Ms Simpkins won the award for her demonstration of the Rotary ideal of 'service above self' in her clinical work in both Hedland Health Campus and outreach services to remote communities.

Since 2008 Ms Simpkins has played a critical role in establishing physiotherapy services for the people of Jigalong, Punmu, Parnngurr and Kunawarritji. She has led teams of physiotherapists in regular visits over so that the people of these remote Western Desert communities now have regular access to experienced physiotherapists.

To further build the quality of physiotherapy services available to people of the Pilbara, Ms Simpkins also works closely with junior colleagues and physiotherapy students, sharing her knowledge and experience.

Ms Simpkins gained her qualifications at Stellenbosch University in Cape Town and met her Australian partner while volunteering on a kibbutz in Israel. After coming to Perth and working in a major teaching hospital, she travelled to Hedland for six months but loved it so much that she has now been living and working in the Pilbara for 33 years.

"The variety of work here in the Pilbara keeps me inspired and learning every day," Ms Simpkins said.

"We have a great Allied Health team in Hedland. Much of our work is done as a multi-disciplinary team and not as individual disciplines which provides a high standard of care for patients.

"One of the highlights has been being able to work with the indigenous community both in town and in the communities. Sometimes due to the distance we stay overnight in the communities which allows us to build a rapport with the children and adults."

The Allied Health Professional of the Year Award is sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Mt Lawley and West Perth. In 2012 the categories included clinical psychology, nutrition and dietetics, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, podiatry, social work and speech pathology.

Media contact: Peter Cogan 9222 6499

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