NT Health – keeping remote nurses safe through policy and practice change

Ms Rhonda Powell1, Mr David Reeve2

1NT Health, Darwin, Australia

2Central Australia Primary Health Care


The Northern Territory (NT) Department of Health has been unrelenting in its implementation of recommendations made following an independent review of remote area safety for nurses and midwives.  This presentation will detail the strategies implemented to date, challenges along the way and future plans. Featured in the presentation will be the on-line professional development modules that have been developed in partnership with Centre for Remote Health and NT Health, and funded by Primary Health Network NT.

In 2017 NT Health endorsed 14 recommendations that aimed to improve the safety, effectiveness and quality of care for nurses, midwives and other staff working in remote areas of the NT. This was supported by a robust governance framework to ensure timelines and deliverables are achieved.

To date the project has delivered; policy reform; 90% completion of repairs and maintenance works; GPS tracking and roll over devices fitted into 189 remote government vehicles and ambulances; internet installation to 318 dwellings; and the development and implementation of 9 bespoke on-line professional development modules. The on-line modules aim to improve the assessment, management, safety effectiveness and quality of care for after-hours clients in remote communities.

Implementation work has now been going for 18 months and continues to be a priority for NT Health. Maintaining momentum and engagement across multiple agencies with competing priorities can be both a barrier and opportunity. Delivering outcomes within expected timeframes can often be in contradiction, as new and unexpected complexities are revealed – to what was thought to be simple and straightforward.

NT Health is committed to the implementation of the 14 recommendations and the journey has led to learnings and further opportunities that we hope to embrace. Providing a safe work environment enhances our ability to recruit and retain highly skilled, experienced and qualified staff.


Ms Rhonda Powell; RN  BSC RPN, MRN

Director of Nursing/Deputy General Manager Primary Health Care – Top End Health Service, Northern Territory