A record number of Australians are packing their bags and making the ‘trees of change’ to rural towns in the region.
SEEK’s Healthcare Report shows the largest net population inflows to regions in the region in 2020, with 43,000 people moving from capital cities in response to the pandemic.
Wannapa Foytong is one of them. She is no stranger to moving to the countryside after residing in Goulburn in southern NSW and Mornington Bay in Victoria over the years, before settling in the remote town of Biloela in Central Queensland.
Despite a population of less than 6,000, Ms. Foytong believes moving to the countryside was the best decision she has made – and she is encouraging others to do the same.
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Why do people move to the countryside?
With nearly 20 years of experience in aged care, Ms. Foytong jumped at the opportunity to move to Biloela and started her new role as Service Manager at Lutheran Services Wahroonga Aged Care in July.
Ms Foytong moved to rural Queensland because she felt her skills and experience could be put to better use.
“I am an immigrant and I have always been grateful and fascinated by the way Australians deliver healthcare to all Australians,” she said.
“So when the opportunity arises for me to raise my hand and volunteer around the region, it is my way of giving back to the country that has given me so much.”
The girl who calls herself a ‘country girl’ said she has always had a ‘weakness and curiosity’ about how health services are delivered in rural and regional areas of Australia.
“I spend a lot of time listening and trying to understand the needs of the Biloela community and the larger community in Gladstone and Rockhampton,” she said.
Ms. Foytong said Wahroonga Lutheran Services Aged Care not only serves the local community, with aged care or the nearest residential area 75 kilometers away.
“We take great pride in providing services and an environment where people in the area can be in their communities and families to have that sense of belonging,” she said.
The service manager says serving her community is another key factor in her regular tree changes around the country.
“I really feel that if you feel like you can be helpful and make a positive change, you have to figure out how to do it,” she says.
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What happens when you move to a rural town
When it comes to her workload, Ms. Foytong said it’s as busy as working in an aged care center in a big smoke.
“In terms of meeting people’s needs and providing services from an elderly care point of view, there’s not much of a difference,” she said.
Ms Foytong said it didn’t take long for her to feel settled in Biloela because the people there are ‘very kind and make you feel at ease.’
“I’ve never been so busy socially, I have people coming for dinner and I go out more than I’ve ever been in the city,” she said.
“I have a lot of time to get to know people in a more meaningful way.”
Before moving to a rural area, Ms. Foytong advises that you need to be open-minded and resourceful to make the transition, as little things like closing shops early can be difficult to adjust to in the first place. .
“The first day I wanted to bake pies but couldn’t buy enough because the stores were closed, so I had an empty bottle for rolling and a glass for cutting the dough,” she says.
“You have to be patient and committed to the course and don’t rush to run away when things get tough,” she says.
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