Community & Business

7 May, 2024

Jodi a hero of small town

IN the small town of Coen in the Cape York region, resident and Primary Health Care administration officer Jodi Hamilton has become renowned for her compassion, empathy, and unwavering support for those in the community.

Jodi a hero of small town - feature photo

Whether it be local residents or visiting healthcare staff, Jodi is always there to lend a helping hand. 

These qualities have led to her being named the 2024 RFDS Local Hero for the Cairns region and now it’s up to locals to vote for her to win the overall State hero title.

Born and raised in Coen, Jodi moved back 13 years ago to bring up her family, while also following in her mother’s footsteps.

Her journey into a career in healthcare was deeply influenced by her mother, Barbara Shephard, a nurse who dedicated 50 years of her life to caring for others. Growing up, Jodi was inspired by her mother’s selflessness and the profound impact she had on the community.

Her mother’s stories of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) resonated deeply, instilling in her a sense of admiration for the healthcare professionals who served remote communities.

“I have a deep appreciation for the way our remote area nurses work with the Flying Doctor to provide such an amazing service for our community,” she said.

“It is amazing to sit back and watch them do what they consider to just be their job, but I consider it to be a remarkable thing.

“It reminds me that you can make a difference as just one person, and it doesn’t have to be a big difference, but it might be a big difference to somebody.”

In her role at the Coen Primary Health Care Clinic, Jodi wears many hats, seamlessly transitioning from administration duties to providing operational support for nursing staff during after-hours emergencies.

“I am an administration officer during the day and after hours I become an operational officer which is a support person for the nursing staff,” she said.

“If a nurse is called in after-hours, the operational officer goes in with them and is a second set of hands to help out. In this role, you have to try and put yourself in the patient’s position especially when they are possibly having to travel out of town.

“It can be really tough, but if we can help provide some guidance on what to expect and make their journey a little bit easier then that is extremely beneficial.”

Jodi knows all too well the work of the RFDS, with many close family and friends relying on the Service, including her father.

“We grew up with mum telling us how wonderful the sound of the RFDS engines was, as that was a lifeline for her as a nurse,” Jodi said.

“As a family that hit home when the last formal evacuation my mother did was my father.

“He was an RFDS aeromedical retrieval out of Coen with burns to 30% of his body so he went to Cairns and then onto Brisbane.

“The excellent service that came with the RFDS getting to Coen so quickly is probably what saved him.”

Jodi’s family property, Lochinvar Station, also has an airstrip which has been used by the RFDS during aeromedical retrievals when unable to land at Coen Airport.

Her coordination efforts have been instrumental in ensuring that patients in Coen receive prompt and appropriate care.

Dr Duncan Grant, an RFDS Medical Officer who spends three days a fortnight in Coen, commended Jodi for her tireless dedication and invaluable support.

He highlighted Jodi’s pivotal role in effectively running the clinic, emphasising the importance of community members like her in supporting RFDS healthcare initiatives.

“Unless you have someone running the clinic properly, your work can be very difficult, so having Jodi in Coen is amazing,” Dr Grant said.

“Jodi runs the clinic and almost runs the town, not only does she organise all travel for patients, she manages all of the day-to-day operations of the clinic and is also on call every night.

“The importance of having local community members who support the RFDS is invaluable as without them, we could not provide the healthcare services we do.”

While humble in her acceptance of the award, Jodi was proud to have continued her mother’s legacy.

“Receiving the RFDS Local Hero Award is lovely, and it acknowledges that we have carried on Mum’s work which is a wonderful feeling,” Jodi said.

Local can vote for Jodi to be the overall RFDS Queensland Hero and receive a $20,000 grant from Ergon Energy by going to


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