NT Health Excellence Awards

The NT Health Excellence Awards recognise achievements by an individual or team from the Department of Health, Top End Health Service and Central Australia Health Service. The awards showcase the outstanding work being developed and delivered for the benefit of all Territorians.

Congratulations to recipients of the 2018 NT Health Excellence Awards

The NT Health Excellence Awards recognise achievements by an individual or team from the Department of Health, Top End Health Service and Central Australia Health Service; showcasing the outstanding work being developed and delivered for the benefit of all Territorians.

The 2018 Awards were celebrated at a presentation ceremony hosted by the Hon Natasha Fyles MLA, Minister for Health, held at Parliament House on Thursday 29 November.

Congratulations to this year’s recipients:

Minister for Health Community Award

Ms Melanie Usher, Counsellor, Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Tennant Creek, Central Australia Health Service

Ms Usher is dedicated to raising awareness and understanding about sexual safety and to assisting with the healing and empowerment of survivors of sexual assault within the Barkly region.

Ms Usher identified the importance of protective behaviour education and started to work at grass root levels by developing and conducting educational sessions with school children and teachers. Positive feedback saw this expand to delivering training to government agencies and non-government organisations. Ms Usher also works with young mums about teaching children sexual safety skills.

When not out bush, Ms Usher provides counselling to adults and children who have been sexually abused/assaulted and does not hesitate to support a client who needs assistance after hours. Ms Usher consistently finds ways to help her co-workers and does volunteer work in the community. Her engagement with the community is focussed on improving the ability to deal with many issues associated with this difficult issue and is having a positive impact on the lives of people in the Barkly region.

Chief Executive Everyday Hero Award

Ms Valmai Winton, Medicines and Poisons Control, Environmental Health, Department of Health

Ms Winton is recognised for her commitment to her role in Medicines and Poisons Control and for the manner in which she supports her colleagues, clients and students who undertake work placements.

Ms Winton is a part-time administrative officer, whose accuracy and attention to detail is surpassed only by her work ethic and politeness, particularly when dealing with clients and difficult situations. Ms Winton is well respected by clients and her colleagues and is considered the ‘Smiling voice of Poisons’.

Ms Winton takes pride in her work and will contribute extra effort and time to ensure data is up to date. She is willing to share her life experiences and is a model of resilience. Ms Winton is seen as an excellent role model for the rest of the team and Ms Winton’s contribution to the workplace is highly valued by her colleagues.

Improving Patient Experience Award

Medical Retrieval and Consultation Service, Alice Springs Hospital, Central Australia Health Service

The team at the Medical Retrieval and Consultation Service, Alice Springs Hospital have identified and implemented measures to streamline and support faster acute care and urgent retrieval times for patients. These measures are part of a continual quality improvement process aimed at enhancing patient-focused care.

The retrieval team saw an opportunity to make the system better, providing a dedicated consultation and coordination service enabling clinic staff to consult directly with a Medical Retrieval Consultant who works in an innovative state-of-the art Medical Retrieval and Consultation Centre (a first of its kind for regional outback Australia).

The scope of the project looked at various ways to interact with major health partners and providers. Brochures and flyers were developed for dissemination of information to communities and positive interactions helped to develop capacity within each service. The project involved advice from specialists, primary health care providers and community health services that provided a discovery about a number of issues and the solutions to ultimately enhance the patient experience and outcomes.

Innovation Award

Emergency Team, Royal Darwin Hospital, Palmerston Regional Hospital, Division of Emergency Medicine, Top End Health Service

The Emergency Team (medical, nursing and support staff) for Royal Darwin Hospital and Palmerston Regional Hospital, applied innovative strategies to meet the challenges of opening the new Emergency Department at Palmerston Regional Hospital.

Research and evidence from other newly opened emergency departments identified early on that many of the challenges and risks experienced elsewhere did not apply in this case.

Community consultation and data analysis helped inform service modelling to identify the likely Emergency Department services required; such as a large number of children, maternity and obstetric presentations, significant trauma given its location to the rural area and transport safety. The appropriate number of qualified, trained and confident Emergency Doctors and Nurses with the right skill set were needed to fit the NT context.

Workshops and consultation with a broad range of health professionals, reception and support staff, in addition to the local knowledge of team members as experts in emergency care, informed the training and readiness program, particularly advanced skill development of local staff. The most telling objective has been staff feedback; the team have felt ready and prepared from day one to deliver excellence in emergency care for both Royal Darwin Hospital and Palmerston Regional Hospital.

Workplace Culture Champion Award

Ms Margaret Rajak, Director Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workforce, People and Culture, Top End Health Service

Ms Rajak has been the key driver in implementing and improving a workforce environment for Top End Health Service Aboriginal employees and has delivered outcomes and products in order to create a workplace that is culturally safe and responsive in growing and retaining Aboriginal employees.

Ms Rajak is driven by her values and possesses a strong sense of personal responsibility and commitment to developing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workforce that feels included, valued, respected and has a voice that is heard in the workplace. Ms Rajak is seen as an Aboriginal role model and mentor. She promotes and raises awareness on Aboriginal Workforce Strategies to both internal and external stakeholders.

Ms Rajak has built and developed strong sponsorship for culture change, effectively supports other employees to be change agents and works closely with employees and managers to ensure employees can fully participate in the workplace. Ms Rajak leads by example by always exhibiting commitment, loyalty and support of Top End Health Service values.

Safety Leadership Award

Dr Sara Watson, Senior Director, Clinical Excellence and Patient Safety, Department of Health

Dr Watson is recognised for her passion and leadership in driving improvements in the quality of health care in the NT at all levels and across sectors and services. Dr Watson represents the NT at the national level and is a powerful advocator and promoter of National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards.

Dr Watson led her team in establishing the NT Clinical Senate and developed the governance and logistics surrounding the Senate. Ms Watson is leading work on quality and safety structures and processes for Acacia and developing an electronic management record safety and quality framework.

Dr Watson provides strong leadership for strategic clinician engagement and facilitates the analysis of NT Health systems, policies and processes to guide improvements to safety and quality systems. Dr Watson has implemented a clear mantra of wide stakeholder engagement and consultation processes, transparency and accountability within her team, clearly modelled from the top. Dr Watson demonstrates a passion for and a common sense, logical approach to reducing avoidable variation in healthcare and preventable hospitalisations.

Cadet/Trainee of the Year

Ms Kelly Stuart, Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Ti Tree Health Centre, Primary Health Care, Central Australia Health Service

Ms Stuart is a newly qualified Aboriginal Health Practitioner at the Ti Tree Health Centre, who received her national registration in June this year.  Ms Stuart completed the 18 months training program in 12 months at an exceptional standard, demonstrating an outstanding commitment to the profession. She has continued to further develop her skills through additional training courses including the Cancer Care Course in Darwin and has commenced training in the area of podiatry.

Ms Stuart is a part of the health centre after hours on call roster and works alongside Remote Area Nurses, Aboriginal Health Practitioners and Aboriginal Community Workers. Ms Stuart likes to work on call to increase her engagement with the community and is a great advocate between community members and the health centre. She has been very engaged with the clinical activities of the health centre and has been confident to practice the skills she has learned.

Ms Stuart is a well-respected member of the team, and has enthusiastically participated in all activities in the health centre environment. She has shown exceptional aptitude in dealing with extremely challenging clinical cases. She is a fantastic communicator, exceptional team player, shows great initiative and will continue to develop into an influential leader. Despite only having completed training early this year, Ms Stuart is already supporting a new Aboriginal Health Practitioner trainee through their studies and really has shown exceptional development in her knowledge and work role.

Emerging Leader of the Year

Dr Kalotina Halkitis, Director Workforce Services, People and Culture, Top End Health Service

Dr Halkitis led the Palmerston Regional Hospital workforce team to successfully recruit, on-board and orientate all staff required for commissioning the Palmerston Regional Hospital workforce for stage 1 opening, going above and beyond to support leading practice.

Workforce was identified as a high risk to the success of the Palmerston Regional Hospital project but with effective planning, implementation of well-structured and evidenced based strategies and exceptionally hard work, Dr Halkitis and her team mitigated this risk. Dr Halkitis’ collaboration with key stakeholders, at all levels across all aspects of the business, not just in Top End Health Service but also within NT Health and other external stakeholders, has been a key to her successful delivery of key outcomes. Her leadership was critical to the success of the workforce stream.

Dr Halkitis delivers on commitments and consults broadly and reflects this in her proposals and recommendations. Her leadership style is one of influencing and driving for change that she believes in – this will continue to develop as she is afforded more accountability as the newly appointed Director Workforce Services, Top End Health Service. Her team management is exceptional and her ability to manage upwards – communicating risk and benefits to Executives – is developing at pace. Dr Halkitis will continue to grow her skillset further and remain an influential emerging leader.

Leader of the Year

Ms Christa Bartjen-Westermann, Manager Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Alice Springs, Central Australia Health Service

Ms Bartjen-Westermann came to the role of Manager of the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) after significant structural changes over the last five years. Ms Bartjen-Westermann’s extended professional network and skill around building capacity has provided stability and enabled the SARC team to broaden the scope of services to clients who have experienced trauma and raise awareness of around sexual violence.

Ms Bartjen-Westermann’s leadership style facilitates and fosters an inclusive work environment, in which individual staff autonomy is acknowledged and respected. Through her collaborative approach, Ms Bartjen-Westermann and her team have implemented various programs and initiatives leading to better outcomes for SARC clients and staff alike.

Ms Bartjen-Westermann has been instrumental in collaborating with a network of community organisations to highlight the issues and impact of sexual violence. Her personal commitment to environmental protection has been carried into the workplace resulting in waste reduction and recycling programs, enabling SARC to lower its environmental footprint.

Ms Bartjen-Westermann has a very positive outlook, is very approachable and demonstrates genuine care for all her staff and clients. She provides visionary and ethical leadership, which embodies the values outlined in the NT Strategic Plan, especially around her commitment to Social Justice.

High Performing Team of the Year

Ti Tree Health Centre Team, Remote Health, Primary Health Care, Central Australia Health Service

The Ti Tree Health Centre Team is recognised for demonstrating outstanding teamwork through a collaborative approach with patients, the community and within the team.

The team has successfully implemented a hub and spoke model of service that has dramatically increased the annual number of consultations across the service delivery area and resulted in a dramatic improvement in meeting key performance indicators (KPIs).

The Ti Tree Health Care Centre has a busy service delivery area including four Health Centres and six Outstations spread over a 200 kilometre stretch of highway with emergency coverage extending to a 400 kilometre stretch of the Stuart Highway. Staff travel to and from their rostered health centre, travel to Outstations for outdoor clinics, collect routine and urgently recalled clients and respond to any emergency call outs, ranging from acute illness to road trauma.

Since implementing the hub and spoke model, a number of service improvements have been achieved such as doubling the number of face to face client consultations, increases in adult health checks and high immunisation rates.

Ti Tree Health Centre is a highly functioning team and as such has been chosen as the pilot site for implementation of further strategies and has participated in a number of research projects. With all the support staff positions including drivers, cleaners and admin officers, the increase in service delivery, maintenance of this service and attainment of KPIs has been possible.

The Ti Tree Hub and Spoke model is a fantastic example of team work and demonstrates the importance of not only the work of clinicians but of all team members and the integral part they play in the delivery of health services.


For further information please contact our HR Strategy and Policy team on (08) 8922 7190 or HRServices.DoH@nt.gov.au

Last updated: 30 November 2018