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The people living the good life in the rural region south of Darwin were devastated when their medical clinic closed.

Suddenly, thousands of people living around Berry Springs were without a doctor or nurse within striking distance.

Kylie Straube, who had a comfortable, well-paid job with the Territory Government, discussed a daring proposal with her family and friends – filling the yawning gap by opening a nurse practitioner clinic.

There are only about 2000 nurse practitioners in Australia and the clinic would be the first of its kind in the country.

When Kylie hesitated with her plans after experiencing roadblocks along the way, her daughter Kaitlyn employed Martin Luther King’s rallying cry: “If not us, then who? If not now, when?”

“It was her way of saying, ‘There’s a problem – do something about it’.”

Surprisingly, there are no Territory or Federal government grants to support the opening of nurse-led rural health clinics.

So Kylie was forced to take a massive financial risk to open Remote Territory Healthcare in the rooms of the former medical clinic in the Berry Springs Shopping Centre.

“Opening the first nurse practitioner clinic in Australia is marvellous – and it’s in the Territory. It took a lot of grit and determination, but it’s going well and we’re thoroughly enjoying it.”

She works alongside fellow nurse and nurse practitioner candidate Heidi Bainbridge and several visiting health specialists, including experts in liver and kidney health, mental health, cardiac sonography and exercise physiology.

Kylie and her team have built up a strong relationship with the community since opening in November 2023, often resulting in colourful tales about Darwin rural history and directions to the odd secret fishing spot.

The clinic has been warmly welcomed by the rural community, who can now access top-class medical care without having to drive to Palmerston – in fact, some Palmerston patients are now driving to Berry Springs for treatment.

It services several rural communities as well as Berry Springs, including Humpty Doo, Dundee, Wagait Beach and Acacia.

Remote Territory Healthcare offers a wide range of services, including primary health care, immunisations, pathology, medical imaging, mental health care, aged care and alternative medicines.

Practitioners are supported by a team well-versed in essential disciplines, including mental health, women’s health, aged care and disability support, which means the clinic ensures a holistic approach to healthcare delivery.

The overarching aim is to provide accessible health care where patients are met with compassionate, expert-led healthcare solutions.

“Nurse practitioners work at an advanced level, allowing for a reduction in fragmented care,” says Kylie, who was born in Ingham, North Queensland, and gained her nursing degree from James Cook University, Townsville.

“Our scope of practice ensures we are proactive in our approach with the aim of reducing preventable hospitalisations.

“We have been well supported by the community and we’re always well booked. Despite that, I always find space for patients, which means long hours but I don’t mind. Coming from a rural background I know what it’s like not to have accessible health services.”

Kylie specialises in primary health care, gerontology and mental health. Remote Territory Healthcare is a teaching partner with Charles Darwin University and collaborates with the Territory-based Menzies School of Health Research on health studies.

Kylie is used to living and working in rural and remote communities – she lives in the Darwin rural area and has worked in remote communities and asylum and refugee centres for most of her nursing career.

“In my role as a nurse, I have worked with people when they are at their most vulnerable,” she says. “It is a real privilege to meet someone at their most vulnerable and help in some way”

Kylie is modest when called a “super nurse”, but she has three masters degrees and has written many peerreviewed articles on health care.

And she loves being a nurse.

“It’s tough at times but tremendously rewarding – nursing is not just a job, it is who you are.”

She originally moved to Darwin to help open the Headspace youth mental health service and later transferred to Alice Springs to manage the Central Australia remote mental health team.

Kylie is a true Territorians now – when not looking after her growing list of rural patients, she enjoys nothing more than going fishing and keeping watch for the “snapping handbags”.


Remote Territory Healthcare

Berry Springs Shopping Village,

10 Doris Road Berry Springs NT 0838

(08) 7937 0000