News &

Grampians Health’s Rural Women Shaping Healthcare and Sustainability

Clockwise top L-R: Cath McDonald, Edenhope’s Dedicated Nursing Professional; Michelle Coutts, Yandilla Nurse Unit Manager; Avril Hogan, General Manager of Longerenong and Grampians Health Board Director; and Emily Langley, Horsham Midwife and Farm Enthusiast

15 October 2023

On this International Day of Rural Women, we applaud the remarkable contributions of the extraordinary women working in our healthcare and supporting rural communities. Their dedication and passion is truly inspiring.

Meet some of the remarkable Grampians Health team members on International Day of Rural Women:

Cath McDonald, Edenhope’s Dedicated Nursing Professional:

Cath McDonald, a dedicated and passionate member of the Edenhope community, has been an integral part of the town’s fabric since 1992. With roots in South Australia, Cath arrived in Edenhope as a fresh-faced nursing graduate, brimming with enthusiasm for life, country living, and the noble profession of nursing.

Not long after her arrival, Cath’s heart found its home when she was swept off her feet by a local farmer. From that moment, it was clear that she had found her place in the world, firmly establishing herself in Edenhope. Over the years, Cath has worn many hats, expertly balancing her roles as a farmer, mother and a healthcare professional.

Raising four wonderful children on the farm, Cath’s journey was nothing short of remarkable. Starting as a registered nurse, Cath moved from Acute Nursing Manager in 2003 to adapted her nursing skills to community health.

Cath’s work is focused on promoting fitness and wellness within the community, aiming to prevent individuals from needing hospital services. Her diverse range of skills in the health field is truly remarkable. She is not only an experienced sexual health nurse but also a valuable resource for those battling cancer.

Beyond her professional roles, Cath is a staunch advocate for mental health awareness and prevention. Her dedication to this cause is inspiring and impactful. She juggles all these responsibilities with grace and determination, all while maintaining her commitment to her family and farming life.

Michelle Coutts, Yandilla Nurse Unit Manager:

For six generations, Michelle Coutts’ family have run a merino sheep grazing property. Michelle said she loves every opportunity she can get to go to the farm.

“I am passionate about every aspect of wool production – partly because of the numerous benefits of this sustainable fibre and I actively promote its nurturing qualities within healthcare – especially for babies,” she said.

“I am also very passionate about sustainable planting and gardening indigenous to specific areas. I grew up in a small country town in southern Victoria and was educated in and started my nursing career in the city.

“I cherish every second of those experiences and still love being in the city but it is always the best feeling to come ‘home’ to wide open spaces.”

Emily Langley, Horsham Midwife and Farm Enthusiast:

Emily Langley works in Horsham’s Yandilla ward as a registered nurse/midwife.

Emily grew up on a sheep and cattle farm 120km south of Horsham on the family farm ‘Nangkita’and in between midwife shifts, she continues to help on the farm.

Emily believes growing up and living within a rural community works hand-in-hand with health care.

“That’s because it has enabled me to develop very strong and varied communication skills which are required when living in the country,” Emily said.

“Also resilience and even how to make a good cup of tea.

“Since commencing my career in health I have learnt and recognised the importance of working in partnership with neighbouring rural and regional health services. We strive to ensure patients receive healthcare and support within their own communities.”

Avril Hogan, General Manager of Longerenong and Grampians Health Board Director:

Avril Hogan is the General Manager of Longerenong College where she is responsible for overseeing the strategy of the training and training delivery, the on-campus accommodation, the 1100Ha commercial mixed farm and the groups and conferences that attend for professional development training. She is also responsible for industry conferences and groups and for working with the industry stakeholders who support Longerenong College and hire its graduates. Avril has taken charge of new initiatives such as setting up the school camps for high schools as an introduction to Longerenong College as a training option.

As a director on the Grampians Health board, Avril was part of the amalgamation committee through her previous role as Deputy Chair of the Edenhope Hospital. She now sits on the Grampians Health Board and is Chair the People and Culture Committee and a member of the Finance Commitee.

Avril said she had discovered similarities in her principal and director roles, such as finding and attracting local staff being a key topic for both organisations.

“That includes making new staff feel welcome and integrating them into the community so that staff stay in the Wimmera,” she said.

“It is something we should all consider, as it is for the benefit of the entire community that we attract and retain people from outside the region.

“The Wimmera is a wonderful place to live and I am happy that I ended up here and married my husband who is from the area.”