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Beth Eden is passionate about helping people

It’s what led her into a career in speech pathology, where she works with school students on their language and communication skills.

It’s also why she started her career where she believes she can have the biggest impact – in a country area.

Beth works as the speech language pathologist for the Queensland Department of Education, based in Chinchilla. She works across 17 schools in the Darling Downs-South West region.

Beth said it was her involvement in the Health-e-Regions telehealth program as a student while at the University of Queensland which guided her to make the move to the Western Downs.

“It really guided my career choice to move out here because I really saw the needs that a rural community has when they don’t have access to all of the services that Brisbane might have,” she said.

Health-e-Regions is a partnership between Shell’s QGC business and the University of Queensland’s Centre for Online Health. The program links students from schools in Tara, Chinchilla, Miles and Wandoan to specialists, through telehealth.

Last year, 116 students received one-on-one allied and specialist health services through the program.

In 2018, Beth was one of the specialists connecting to students from UQ in Brisbane. Fast forward to 2019 and she’s on the ground, working in the classroom.

She says it’s clear that distance and the availability of specialists are a challenge for rural students and their families.

That’s why programs like Health-e-Regions are so important and impactful. The telehealth consults complement the services delivered by Beth and allow more students to get access to one-on-one help without having to travel long distances.

“Every day I can see there are barriers to accessing speech and language therapy in a rural setting,” Beth said.

“Having Health-e-Regions available to students at our schools is really beneficial…they’re able to access the curriculum better and they’re able to talk to their friends at lunchtime. All the type of things that are important at school.”

She said the program had also taught her a lot – and that it was helping specialist students at UQ in Brisbane to learn more about the possibilities a career working in country towns offers.

“I think (university) students should take up the opportunities to help out rural communities and take placement in rural communities because I really think that is where the benefit can really be seen,” she said.

“I’m loving being here and it’s really inspiring to have the opportunity to positively impact so many young people’s lives.”