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Volunteer Spotlight: Sabina Shugg on the Mutitjulu, NT veterinary program

AMRRIC Volunteer and Board Member Sabina Shugg AM, helping to administer ivermectin sandwiches to the dogs of Mutitjulu.

Sabina Shugg AM has been a voluntary AMRRIC Board Member since 2011, and in December 2017 she had the opportunity to volunteer with AMRRIC partner veterinarian Dr Stephen Cutter on the regular Mutitjulu veterinary program.  Mutitjulu is an Indigenous community located at the base of Uluru, within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.  Dr Stephen Cutter and his team have been delivering bi-, or more often tri-annual veterinary services to the community for over a decade, over which time he has developed strong relationships with the community members and their animals. Here, she shares her insights.

What did you do for the program? 

I’m not a vet but I helped where I could, for example, under the vet’s direction I made and administered Ivermectin and ham paste sandwiches to treat the dogs for parasites.  I also talked to the community members to determine which animals needed to see the vet for operations, collected and returned animals that underwent surgery, and helped with the set up and cleanup of the surgery area each day. 

What did you most enjoy? 

Helping to make a difference to the lives of the individual animals, and knowing the knock-on positive impact to the whole community was really rewarding.  Getting to see AMRRIC’s work first hand after many years of work behind the scenes on the Board was also extremely satisfying. 

Were there any challenges? 

I’d been to remote communities before, so I knew what to expect, but all the same it was emotionally and physically draining.  It’s a challenging environment so mentally, I coped by remembering you can only do what you can do. 

What is the main thing you got out of this volunteering experience? 

I really appreciated the opportunity to see firsthand the generally good animal health within the community and the corresponding positive impact on community health, and knowing that this is the outcome of regular animal health programs. 

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