When Jodie Jackson saw people living with illness in her community nervous to travel off country to seek the medical attention they needed, she quickly put her hand up to be a travel companion and break down confusion between her mob and doctors.

Ms Jackson kickstarted the Perth outreach program at Mawarnkarra Aboriginal health service in Western Australia’s Pilbara region six years ago, jumping on endless planes between the city and the remote community since.

“I listened a bit more and thought, well how can we help them,” she said.

“I put it forward (and asked) if you had someone down in Perth that could help you, and you knew that person, would you come to Perth for your appointments.”

The answer was yes.

Mawarnkarra Perth outreach worker Jodi Jackson. image supplied

Initially a social emotional wellbeing worker, and later obtaining her certificate IV in mental health, Ms Jackson travels with patients to sit in on consultations, break down complex medial jargon, help map out treatment plans and intervene when required, all while lending a loving hand.

“I’ve had a lot of young ones come down that have never left country before,” she said.

“Doctors use all these big words, and I’ll simplify it and say how it is.

“Before, when people were coming down, they didn’t have any guidance and they didn’t have anyone to help them, whereas now they do.

“I’ll get their appointments schedule out, we’ll have them all laid out, so we know what we’re doing and they know what they’re doing as well.”

Now based in Perth, she continues her fly-in fly-out work, utilising the increased services available at Roebourne’s MHS in the north.

A young woman suffering life-long kidney issues developed a close relationship with Ms Jackson while she stood by her side, and was the recipient of the first successful kidney transplant overseen by the service last December.

The operation was scheduled and performed on the same day, with Ms Jackson flying the woman to Perth within hours of getting the call.

“She used to do dialysis four days a week,” she said.

“Once the dialysis centre opened up in Mawarnkarra she was able to do her dialysis there, and she would come down to see the transplant mob, the doctor at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth.

“She’s gone from having to do dialysis – which was 8.30am in the morning to 2.30pm in the afternoon, and that’s four days a week – to having a life.

“She’s thriving now.”

She said the close bonds formed with the people she works with and their families is a great privilege.

Ms Jackson continues to be the soul Perth outreach worker for Mawarnkarra, taking on responsibility for seven to 15 patients each week.