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'Give it a go: you won't regret it'

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For English-born and trained midwife Joan Cummins, the lure of adventure and the opportunity to refine her craft brought her to Western Australia more than 20 years go.

Joan – who is now the Clinical Nurse Manager and a practising midwife at Kununurra Hospital in Western Australia’s far north Kimberley region - says coming to Western Australia was one of the best decisions of her life. 

“I was a typical English girl, looking for adventure,” she said.

“After training as a midwife in England’s northern provincial hospitals and working as a homebirth midwife, I made the decision at age 27 to work overseas for nursing agencies in England, Europe, Canada and Australia,” she said.

“I was working in Perth, the capital of Western Australia, when I decided that a country post might enable me to use my craft more.”

“So I worked as a midwife in Derby, as the Director of Nursing at Halls Creek - where I met my husband - and eventually settled in Kununurra, which I have now called home for 20 years. It was – and still is – an amazing adventure.”

Joan said she loved working in a small remote hospital because of the huge variety in her work and the tightknit supportive team.

“As a midwife in Kununurra, I not only get to see mothers and babies, but I end up having involvement in treating the whole family,” she said.

“There is more opportunity to practice your craft in a small or remote hospital”

“I have also established midwifery-led clinics which enables our midwives to do antenatal and postnatal work in remote areas, such as Aboriginal communities in the desert.

“Hospital-based nurses can sometimes have blinkers on to what is going on in the community but our midwives know what is going on because they are out there.

“There is more opportunity to practice your craft in a small or remote hospital.”

Joan said midwives at Kununurra Hospital worked in a team with GP obstetricians, and were given a lot of decision-making capacity.

Kununurra is a town of about 7000 people situated in among the scenic hills and ranges of the far north-east Kimberley region of Western Australia, famous for its connection with the Ord River.

Joan – now considered one of Kununurra’s “long-time residents” wasn’t shy in singing the praises of her adopted hometown.

“Kununurra is an amazing place to live. Whatever your interests, there is an activity or a group for you,” she said.  

“At the hospital, newcomers are usually invited 4-wheel driving or to a backyard BBQ almost as soon as they arrive and there is a lot of movement in the community. It is a dynamic place.”

For Joan, the closeness and community spirit in the small town meant it was the perfect environment to raise her three children – who are now all at university in Perth. 

“Newcomers are usually invited 4-wheel driving or to a backyard BBQ almost as soon as they arrive”

“When kids were little, they would get out of school, which is just around the corner from the hospital, and sit in the hospital waiting room for a half an hour until I finished work,” she said.

“There is a strong family element in Kununurra - we have seven nurses on maternity leave at the moment – and 50 per cent met their men here!”

Joan said even the Australian girls who came to Kununurra found that it was different to working in any other place.

WA Health is looking to recruit qualified and experienced nurses and midwives to meet growing demand in the health system, with experience in the following areas of specialty; maternity, neonates, emergency, intensive care, coronary care, peri-operative, mental health, paediatric oncology and rural and remote nursing.

WA Health advises nurses against moving to Australia without having their registration granted and a firm job offer in place.

It will only offer employment to people who have met the registration requirements and have the in-demand experience and skills.

While some nurses and midwives from overseas have experienced issues with registration, any risk can be reduced by registering your interest through the WA Health International Workforce Supply Bureau rather than going independently or via recruitment agencies.

For further information about nursing and midwifery opportunities in WA, go to and follow the Migration -Opportunities for Health Professionals links.  Or you can email your enquiries to

For further encouragement, listen to Joan.

“Give it a go. You won’t regret it,” she said.

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