Top award for La Trobe podiatry graduate

A La Trobe University podiatry graduate servicing remote communities in the Mallee and south west New South Wales has been recognised with Victoria’s highest award for rural allied health services.

Emily Luke established her business Country Feet Podiatry from a Swan Hill base in 2015, but now services communities in Swan Hill, Sea Lake, Balranald, Cohuna and Kerang.

The service was launched as a mobile practice to overcome problems experienced by small agencies and communities in the Mallee accessing reliable and ongoing podiatric services.

At the Victorian Rural Health Awards at Creswick on Saturday night, Country Feet Proprietor Emily Luke was presented with the Rural Allied Health Professional Award for service and contribution to rural communities.

Emily grew up in Mildura and Swan Hill and graduated from La Trobe University Bundoora as a podiatrist in 2014.

During her study, Ms Luke’s driving ambition was to return to her home community and provide clinical podiatry practice to service unmet demand, particularly in rural and remote communities in the Mallee.

However, when she graduated, Ms Luke accepted part-time employment at clinics in the northern suburbs of Melbourne due to her partner’s work commitments in Melbourne and his inability to relocate to regional Victoria.

But she did not relinquish her passion for improving podiatric service in rural communities and set about developing a visiting practice model that could operate on-the-road from a Melbourne base.

“I found that there was an area of unmet demand and Country Feet Podiatry was born to service communities in the Swan Hill, Balranald and the Mallee,” Ms Luke said.

“Rural communities often find it difficult to recruit, sustain and retain allied health professionals and that lack of access to reliable services creates flow-on impacts on health and wellbeing, particularly among the young and elderly,” she said.

“The reality of working in the Mallee has been exactly the reason I was so committed to working here.

“It’s the people and the communities who are so welcoming and pleased to have access to services in their own community – I absolutely love the communities I work in and the challenge of doing something new.”

Ms Luke said growth in services and expansion to new areas had reached a point where she was looking for an additional podiatrist to help meet demand.

“I let people know at every opportunity how fantastic it is working in rural and remote communities and ideally I’d love to find another practitioner who’s just as passionate about rural health and who can help me meet the demand that’s still growing,” she said.

Country Care Podiatry can be contacted on 0448 812 850 or visiting the website at countryfeetpodiatry.com.au

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