The Wimmera is known for the reliability of its workforce, and an unemployment rate generally well below the national average. Investing in the Wimmera means having access to a skilled workforce from young people starting their first job to experienced employees

Healthy mix of cultures at Warracknabeal

Annabel Askin2

A COLLOBORATION of cultures creates a diverse and inspiring workplace at Rural NorthWest Health in Warracknabeal.
Podiatrist Angela Covington joined the team from Cambridge, England this year.

Angela worked mainly with the elderly and diabetic patients in England, administering foot health care within the community.

She treats a similar clientele at Rural NorthWest Health, particularly caring for Veterans Affairs clients.

“I worked mainly with the elderly and that’s what I love doing,” she said.

“Before I became a podiatrist I worked as a community carer, looking after elderly people in their homes.”

Angela said she moved to Australia because her father, two brothers and their families all lived here. 

“They are all Australian Rules football fans so I’ve been barracking for Essendon for the past decade, even while living in England. In fact, I’ve already been to an Anzac Day game,” she said.

Angela said she wanted to work in a rural community in Australia, so Warracknabeal was an ideal fit.

“The rural communities are the ones most in need of specialised allied health treatment,” she said.

“I’m not a big fan of the cities. I much prefer the rural life. I’m a country girl at heart.”

Exercise physiologist Annabel Askin moved from New Zealand to take up her position at Rural NorthWest Health.

Annabel said she liked the idea of working in the Wimmera because she was raised on a family farm in Canterbury on New Zealand’s South Island.


She said she hoped to work with football and netball teams in the Wimmera to develop training methods that would help injury prevention.

A physiologist works to prevent chronic disease or various pathologies suffered by people of all ages, by understanding how the body adapts and responds to exercise-induced programs.
Annabel helps clients increase their strength and mobility, particularly assisting people’s recovery from injuries.

She completed her Bachelor of Sport Coaching at the University of Canterbury, and then gained her Masters in Clinical Exercise Physiology at the University of Queensland while working in Brisbane.

“I really enjoy helping people of all ages return to the activities they like doing the most,’’ she said.
Warracknabeal is certainly a long way from where Haylee Chen grew up.

The nurse, born and raised in China, has just completed her post-graduate year at Rural NorthWest Health.
Haylee, 23, grew up in what was a small village, by China’s standards, in Central China’s Hebei Province, about three and a half hours drive from Beijing.

“The village was about the size of Ballarat but not as busy,” Haylee said. “But much busier than Warracknabeal.”

When Haylee she was 16, she said goodbye to her family and friends and moved to Australia to study.

“I knew I was going to miss my family but it wasn’t hard to leave. All I can remember when I left, was just being quite excited about going to Australia and the challenge ahead,” she said.
After six months studying the English language, Haylee enrolled into a Brisbane high school and finished with marks high enough to study medicine.

While becoming a doctor was tempting, her heart was with dentistry but the cost of the course for an international student was almost triple that of an Australian student.

So she studied nursing at Queensland University of Technology and dedicated herself to her work.

Haylee struggled to acclimatise to Brisbane’s tropical weather and when she finished studying, she looked for a job in Victoria.

“The climate here is more like home,” she said.
“The country people are different from the city. They are more approachable and extremely friendly and most of the staff are very nice.

“It’s a good place to work your grad year because there is plenty of support and educators to help you.

“The people I live with at the on-site accommodation are really nice and we get along really well. It’s a good environment to work in.’’
Haylee intends to keep working to save enough money to study either medicine or dentistry.

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Australian Bureau of Statistics data on employment in the Wimmera