25 November, 2020
Sandy Gillies makes history as Primary Health Service CEO
GUNGGARI woman and Winton local, Sandy Gillies, has been appointed new CEO of the Western Queensland Primary Health Network (WQPHN) from January 2021, making her the first Indigenous person to be delegated the role.
Gillies said her key priorities as WQPHN CEO would be to strengthen primary
care providers and harness the capacity of locals to improve the health of
their own communities.
“There is a deep willingness in the west for people to work together and make things happen, regardless of their titles or job description,” Ms Gillies said.
“What we can tap into as the WQPHN are the strengths of the region and willingness of western Queenslanders to stay engaged, and adapt to changing and challenging circumstances to achieve the health outcomes everyone wants for their communities.”
Born and bred in the Outback, Ms Gillies began her journey in the health industry after completing her enrolled nurses’ qualification, igniting a passion that remains to this day through her current role as WQPHN executive manager.
“Outback nursing back then was a great introduction to the challenge of getting the most out of yourself as a clinician, and doing your best with the resources around you, which were often limited,” she said.
“That experience, and my journey through the health system since, has helped me understand how to get the best out of local communities by empowering them to care for their own through collaboration, co-design and a place-based approach to primary health care because each community is unique.”
Chairperson for WQPHN, Dallas Leon, is a proud Kalkadoon and Wannyi man who believes Ms Gillies will prosper in her imminent role as CEO thanks to her having more than 25 years’ experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
“Twenty per cent of the people in our patch are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, a population that experiences a disproportionate rate of poor health,” Mr Leon said.
“Sandy already has a legacy of connecting with all communities across our region, but her track record of building relationships with our Indigenous cohort is outstanding. We look forward to these relationships going from strength to strength under her stewardship.”
Blackall-Tambo Regional Council Mayor, Andrew Martin, said Ms Gillies would flourish as CEO if her significant contributions to western Queensland were any indication.
“I welcome the appointment of Sandy to the CEO role,” Cr Martin said. “As a local, Sandy understands the demographic she works with and she’ll bring a great deal of energy to the marvellous work of the WQPHN in our region.
“She was instrumental in a recent pilot program that’s been very successful in supporting at-risk adolescent girls in this shire. In short, she knows what to do and she knows how to do it.”
Sandy Gillies will replace outgoing CEO, Stuart Gordon, who has been recognised for his vision, commitment and passion for rural and remote health, and for expertly leading the implementation of the organisation’s primary health care strategy since its inception in 2015.