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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Outback nurse, Gayle Woodford murdered

Gayle Woodford

It's a tragic situation.  A nurse with a kind heart, Gayle Woodford 56, who dedicated her life to helping Aboriginal people living in remote communities, was found buried in a shallow grave on Saturday.

She was last seen three days earlier at Arangu Pitjantjaatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, 1200 kms north west of Adelaide.

Dudley Davey 34, has been charged with her murder.

Nurses working in remote communities have been at risk for years but it's taken Ms Woodford's tragic death to bring attention to their plight and we begin to understand how dangerous their job really is.

There have been incidents of attempted rape, having stones thrown at them and their ambulances, threatened with iron bars, and in one case, an axe was thrown at a nurse, missing her by inches.

Former APY nurse Louise Johnson wrote "I worked on the same lands as Gayle, drove the same ambulance, nursed at the same clinic and stayed in the same house a few years ago - I was unsafe, unsupported, overworked, under-appreciated and racially abused."

The bottom line is that nurses are required to work alone and calls for sending them out in pairs - the only sensible solution - is going to require double the funding.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation state secretary Elizabeth Dabars said it had long lobbied for an end to single nursing posts.  "It's absolutely an abomination that it's taken another tragedy to bring attention to this important issue" she said.

The distraught family of the much-loved nurse has spoken out about their grief.

Her son Garry Woodford said the 56 year old was a 'beautiful, loving wife and mother who wanted to make a difference to people's lives through her nursing and caring for others.'