Celebrating 60 years of Palms: Inspiring stories from our early placements

Celebrating 60 years of Palms: Inspiring stories from our early placements

By Robert Reynolds

As part of our upcoming Palms 60 Diamond Jubilee celebrations we have been collecting and collating stories and images from some of the people who went on placement back in Palms’ earlier decades including those who took on placements in Papua New Guinea the 1960s and 70s. This has turned into an incredibly moving and inspiring experience for me and I’d like to share just a few fragments of those stories here.

Janette and her husband Bernie married in 1962 and two years later they both started a two-year placement together, working as a nurse and a carpenter. Janette told me that those were the best years of their lives because money wasn’t important, the community provided everything they needed and they learned how to make do and do new things. Janette even had her first child, Peter, during their placement!

Fleur originally had no intention to go on placement with Palms but did the pre-placement training out of curiosity. One thing led to another and in 1971 she was offered and accepted an invitation to fill a three month gap in a nursing placement and ended up staying for three years. Working in a very different setting, Fleur had to learn the ropes quickly and professional development subsequently became a feature of her career. She went on to study and work in midwifery, community health, medical geography (the effects of time, distance, landform and climate on people’s health) and hearing. She also worked as a nurse for six years in a remote Aboriginal community.

Michele had completed her teacher training and worked in schools in Australia for four years when she decided that she wanted to give something back to those who didn’t enjoy such opportunities. In 1970 she left to teach and mentor in a remote part of PNG and soon found herself in the role of Acting Principal. Michele said one of the challenges of her placement was adapting to a different culture and she wishes she’d received the sort of pre-placement cross-cultural training that Palms currently provides. However, the whole experience taught her how to ‘step out into the dark’ meaning to go to places where the answers are unknown and to develop trust and confidence that things will work out.

Several decades later and, despite the impacts of a world facing a pandemic, Palms is as committed as ever to our work and we are taking applications now for placements in 2021 and beyond and will be offering a pre-placement Orientation Course from 9 to 17 January, 2021. You can check out the current placement opportunities, on the Palms website and register your interest in applying.

Featured image: Janette & Bernie