Northern Australia Primary Health Limited (NAPHL) Refugee Health Nurse, Kylie Straube was five years old when she decided that she wanted to become a nurse.

It was shortly before her younger sister passed away and she was in a hospital room at the old Townsville General Hospital surrounded by her family as her gravely ill sister lay in bed.

As murmured discussions were had about her sister’s waning health, a nurse handed Kylie a packet of stickers.

They were the puffy kind, with Muppets on them, and the small gesture helped to lift the heaviness she felt in the hospital room.

“That nurse provided comfort, reassurance and a shared knowledge about how difficult it was and she had the strength to hold our family in a way that helped us on our journey of grief and loss. That was the moment I knew I wanted to be a nurse,” Ms Straube said.

Three decades later she is now working as a Refugee Health Nurse for NAPHL and has dedicated her nursing career to trying to ensure everyone, regardless of geographic location, their race, or socio-economic background, has access to the highest quality of healthcare.

“That was why I wanted to get a skill set of being a nurse and why I’ve always had a drive to have equal access to healthcare regardless of where you live.”

After high school, she left her hometown of Ingham and at the age of 20 she graduated from James Cook University with a Bachelor of Nursing and later earned her Masters in Mental Health, Masters in Primary Health and Masters in Nursing which qualified her to become a Nurse Practitioner.

Her first nursing job was working at the Mental Health Service at Townsville Hospital.

She then spent a year on Palm Island working for the mental health service where her passion for equal access to healthcare continued to grow.

“I absolutely loved it and it increased my drive for equal access regardless of geographic location, socioeconomic background or level of education,” she said.

“My time on Palm Island was when I learnt the most about myself and the type of nurse I wanted to become.”

Ms Straube then worked in mental health in Innisfail and Tully before returning to Townsville in 2007 where she worked with people who had spinal injuries.

At the time it was before the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) had been introduced and there hadn’t yet been a spotlight on the challenges faced by people with disabilities.

“My job was to really get in peoples’ ears about how people with spinal injuries should be able to have access to a wheelchair accessible taxi so they can do basic things like go to the shops and get their own groceries,” she said.

“I had a sense of outrage that there wasn’t that level of equality for people with a disability.”

Later in her career she took on the role of Central Australia Remote Mental Health Manager where she was in charge of an area larger than France in one of the most remote areas of Australia, looking after the country’s most marginalised people.

It was a challenging role that fostered her passion for primary health care (care delivered in the community) after witnessing preventable health conditions that were also impacting on her patients’ mental health.

Later Ms Straube returned to Townsville where she was part of the project team that established the Adolescent Mental Health Unit located at the Kirwan Health Campus, while she also worked in Nauru treating asylum seekers.

She now works for NAPHL as a Refugee Health Nurse.

The Refugee Health Nursing program is funded by Townsville University Hospital and works in conjunction with the hospital and the Townsville Multicultural Support Group. Ms Straube works with newly arrived refugees under the Australian Humanitarian Settlement Program.

She links in with GP practices to coordinate primary healthcare as well as oral health services and any other tertiary referrals that may be needed during the settlement process.

“It’s probably been the most rewarding job I’ve ever had,” she said.

“The connection you have with clients and the rapport you have is why I’m a nurse and why I love nursing.”

Ms Straube has juggled her diverse career with being a mum to her two children; Kaitlyn who is now 15 and Ryan who is 14.

“I think my nursing journey also made me a better mum because it made me realise what’s important,” she said.

“I think my drive for being with people and helping them on their journey has always been my purpose."

“A nurse is not a job, it’s your identity, it’s who you are as a person.”