ARHEN David Lyle Prize for Rural and Remote Health Awarded to Kathy Lynch

The Australian Rural Health Education Network (ARHEN) Board announced on 12 December that Kathy Lynch, UDRH Project Officer for the Department of Rural Health at the University of Melbourne, is the winner of the inaugural David Lyle Prize for Rural and Remote Health (professional staff). Kathy is also the representative of the Department of Rural Health at the ARHEN Executive Officer group.

Kathy with members of the  University of Melbourne UDRH Aboriginal Health team. From left to right: Alice Pettit, Helen Everist, Raylene Nixon and Kathy Lynch. Absent: Gwenda Freeman and Kira-Ann Winmar

Kathy has lived and worked in rural settings for many years and has worked for the University of Melbourne at regional campuses for more than ten years.

Always top of mind for Kathy is how to best support her colleagues to achieve their goals and to ensure all nursing and allied health students have a positive experience whilst on placement in regional Victoria.

The judging panel commended Kathy for her drive and commitment, particularly in supporting the First Nations health team by promoting their courses, assisting with student enrolment and effective course administration.

Since its introduction in 2019, Kathy has gone out of her way to help students apply for the Specialist Certificate in Empowering Health in Aboriginal Communities. Kathy has initiated a number of changes to make the process of applying less daunting for potential students. She now works with each student throughout the enrolment process and continues to offer guidance and practical support as the student progresses through the program.

Kathy’s work with the student placement team has seen her provide training as well as informal support and mentoring to new staff members.

“One of the most rewarding parts of my role is seeing how much the students in the Specialist Certificate gain from doing the program and the impact that has on them and the organisations and communities they work in” Kathy said.

Kathy also works to enhance collaboration and connect people from the different University Departments of Rural Health in Victoria.

Kathy’s passion for regional and rural areas is clear. Outside of work, Kathy spends many hours volunteering, working to protect local flora and fauna and contributing to the beautiful environs in her region.

The judging panel noted that through her work, Kathy enables and empowers others and in doing so, supports the Department of Rural Health to achieve its goals and provide high quality health education and research.

Australian Rural Health Education Network (ARHEN)

ARHEN is the national association and peak body for the 17 University Departments of Rural Health located in rural and remote Australia.

Their purpose is to promote the health and wellbeing of people in rural and remote Australia by delivering high-quality health education, research and advocacy.

The David Lyle Prize for Rural and Remote Health

The ARHEN Board established the David Lyle Prizes for Rural and Remote Health in recognition of long-term ARHEN Board member, Professor David Lyle.

Professor Lyle was Director of the Broken Hill Department of Rural Health, University of Sydney from 1997 to 2022 and one of the founding members of ARHEN in 2001. Professor Lyle was a strong advocate for the work of the University Departments of Rural Health (UDRH) and led many collaborative initiatives over the years to build and share knowledge across ARHEN and support rural and remote health colleagues around Australia.