We find out what makes integratedliving’s CEO, Catherine Daley, so determined to improve health outcomes for all Australians.
Catherine Daley has worked for integratedliving for two decades, leading the business as its Chief Executive Officer for the last 13 years. She remains as committed as ever to improving and expanding access to health-care services for those in regional, rural and remote Australia. Here, we find out more about Catherine, and what drives her passion for integratedliving’s mission.
Catherine, you’re now based in Hobart, Tasmania. Can you tell us about moving from the Upper Hunter Region in NSW to Tasmania’s capital? What do you enjoy most about living on the ‘Apple Isle’?
Catherine: I first came to Tasmania in late 2013 to meet another organisation interested in merging with integratedliving. We were expanding services in Tasmania, and I made several visits to meet with the CEO and Board and with government and other stakeholders. I eventually moved in 2015.
Coming from a village in the Upper Hunter, from three acres, Hobart still has the feel of a welcoming ‘big country town’. I love the cooler weather, the accessibility to creative and artistic events, and the ability to be in rural settings, 10-15 minutes from the city. I appreciate the long evenings in summer, even the light is different.
I love the sandstone buildings, the harbour, and of course kunanyi, our spectacular mountain towering over Hobart and often covered in snow, even in summer.
As a mother of four and grandmother of five, what was the most challenging part of navigating COVID travel restrictions with your grandchildren located interstate?
Catherine: It was difficult not to see my five grandchildren, especially the younger ones, one still a young baby when COVID hit. Thankfully for FaceTime I felt like I was still seeing them grow up and they knew who I was. It was wonderful to see them in person.
You recently welcomed a new family member in Rory the Groodle (Golden Retriever-Poodle). How has Rory’s presence impacted your life?
Catherine: Rory manages to entertain people during online meetings, demanding my time by putting toys on me. He has learnt the cues when the online meetings end and is ready for a pat and play. Because he is still a puppy, he does need attention. Unfortunately, he has chewed a few things and managed to destroy a lot of my back garden chasing birds, so now I am getting paving! Puppies are expensive!
Catherine, you lived a nomadic life as a young person due to your father’s line of work. Can you tell us about your experience living in developing countries, and later living and travelling in rural Australia?
Catherine: I spent much of my early childhood in Papua New Guinea for my dad’s work as a Transport Officer with the Commonwealth Government. I would often wander off on adventures down a track to play in a hut I found, or just explore, especially in Mount Hagen. I was about eight years old at the time.
When we were in Port Moresby when I was about six years old, my dad found a nest of baby Taipan snakes in my cubby house. Dad had been in Papua New Guinea during WW2 so returned to Lae when I was a baby. The story is the plane had to lose altitude as I was turning blue. Obviously before the well-oxygenated flights!
I was an only child, so I learnt early to amuse myself and I think my upbringing contributed to my resilience, optimism, and ability to cope with change. We moved frequently and I went to 12 schools and lived in 13 houses by high school as we moved back to Australia for Dad’s leave break. I still had to go to school.
I have been fortunate to also travel through a lot of Australia especially the rural and remote areas, most of NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, and Queensland, and significant parts of Northern Territory. I have driven the Telegraph Track on Cape York and been over the metre drop at Gunshot Creek and across to Thursday Island. Central Australia, Uluru, is where I felt the greatest spiritual connection to country. Through Covid, with borders closed, I took the opportunity to explore a lot more of spectacular Tasmania.
How has your upbringing, and life choices influenced your passion and insights to lifestyles and challenges for regional, rural and remote communities?
Catherine: The statistics are available that show ‘your postcode matters’ to your health outcomes, but experiencing the regions firsthand lets you see the uniqueness and value of each community. Unfortunately, many people in decision-making positions have never left the cities to experience the vastness and resourcefulness of so many communities across Australia.
I remember in Queensland, looking at the map, and finding the ‘big dot’ two hours' drive away that looked like a community, was only a roadhouse. And receiving funding several years ago in North West Tasmania for Telehealth, only to drive the North and West coast to find there was only connection available in the towns so those communities outside the towns who needed assistance would still be disadvantaged. Even in more concentrated regional areas there can be waterways and peninsulas which can isolate people and make it difficult to get to the nearest appointment without transport assistance.
It's important to me to understand the environment, accessibility, and challenges, of communities we serve. My Dad was a veteran and an incorrect diagnosis for many years resulted in him living with extensive pain. Dad was medically retired at a young age and finally received Totally and Permanent Incapacitated Pension. When I was 20, he finally found a surgeon who could treat his nerve pain and undertake spinal fusions. This made it very challenging as a family. Access to the right care at the right time would have made a difference to his quality of life and our family.
Without an understanding of the many issues, we can’t appreciate the challenges people in rural, regional and remote communities face to have equitable access to services and we won't think about different service models and ways of creatively finding solutions to ensure people receive the services they need to have good health outcomes.
Given integratedliving’s alignment to preventative health and wellbeing, what are some of your daily and weekly rituals to stay active and as healthy as possible socially?
Catherine: I connect with family and friends on a regular basis, even if just through a text or phone call. New pup Rory now means a whole new source of interactions with passersby if we are outside, or at the leash-free dog park. People In Hobart love dogs so there’s always a conversation. I was walking and going to Park Run every Saturday with a friend but now it's taking the dog for a walk and catching up for coffee or brunch.
I visit my regular places so people get to know me and can chat in person. It’s a nice break to being online most of the day with colleagues. Of course, visitors are always welcome, and my youngest child who lives in Melbourne, comes and goes.
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