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Pilbara vet program; a volunteer’s perspective

AMRRIC volunteers, vet nurse Shoallea Cooke and vet Dr James Holder, tattoo a patient to indicate its desexed reproductive status

AMRRIC volunteer vet nurse Shoallea Cooke volunteered her time and skill on a veterinary program through the Pilbara in May. Below are some of her reflections on the experience.

I have wanted to volunteer for AMRRIC for 4 years and just kept putting it off. Finally, everything aligned and I applied to, and was accepted to volunteer on a program in the Pilbara, West Australia, hosted by Pilbara Meta Maya Regional Aboriginal Corporation, with principal vet Dr Stephen Cutter.

During the week-long program, our team provided veterinary services to Goodibinya, Yandeyarra, Jigalong, Marta Marta, Tklala Boorda, Jinparinya, Punja Njamal, and Irrungadi, racking up some kilometres along the way.

Workwise, I prepared, monitored and recovered surgical patients, assisted the vets as required, and enjoyed talking to community members about their animals.  It was also great to be part of such an experienced and dedicated team.  While there were a couple of challenges during the week, the challenges of this sort of work are well and truly outweighed by the positives.

The entire experience was truly amazing. It is indescribable how much I enjoyed my trip. The travel, the red dirt, the communities… All incredible! I recently got accepted into Sunshine Coast University to complete a Bachelor of Indigenous Knowledge and as I was driving back from one of the communities I accepted my offer. For me, this trip was life directing.

I’d encourage anyone thinking of volunteering with AMRRIC to do it! Go in with an open mind & enjoy it. This is our country and there is so much to see and be involved in.

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