Adelaide Anglicans

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A Country Practice

Before Joh and her husband, the Reverend Brad Henley, made the move over to Kangaroo Island (KI) as Bush Church Aid (BCA) workers, she held a stable government job, “before we moved here I was working for Child Protection and The Women’s & Children’s (Hospital), as a psychologist.”

But the move to KI forced her to seek new avenues of employment, “When we first moved here I was looking for any government work… but being such a small community, there’s no government work for Psychologists, so I ended up starting my private practice.” 

Most of the health issues Joh is faced with on KI are the same as those she had dealt with on the mainland, though life in a rural community presents a different set of challenges, “Some of them are really similar to what you see everywhere; anxiety, depression, PTSD, but with more of that rural/isolated factor – farming issues. There’s less access to services over here, so it makes it harder to refer people onto other things that they might need, and quite a few families on the island who have children on the autism spectrum – so that’s an area of need that I became quickly aware of and have had extra training for that over the last couple of years, so I can meet that gap.”

Joh, who previously worshipped at St Matthew’s Kensington, also draws strength from her faith as a way of dealing with some of the burdens of life in a tightknit community, “My faith helps me a lot as a practitioner, as it gives me an ability to offload the things that I’m hearing and working with, to God, who I know cares for those people more than I do, and that helps me to manage that stress. And it’s been interesting working on the island with that faith perspective, people know my husband is the local minister, so people often bring up issues of faith, and I can try to help them with that.

“Community is very important in that we all know each other and there is a strong sense of community spirit. It affects my work a lot in that everyone knows each other, and everywhere you go you see the same people, so as a psychologist I have to be careful of boundaries and trying to manage that. We go to the shops and bump into people, including clients and parishioners, and that causes us to be careful of how we manage family time.”

“When we arrived on The Island I had a six-week-old baby. That was a bit hard because I was used to being in a church where there were six or seven others in similar situations and meals rosters and that kind of stuff. On the flip side, it was a really great stage for settling into a rural community because there’s lots of kinder gym and play group for example. So, you end up seeing the same mums three or so times a week. So it was a great way of building relationships. And it’s been a really nice environment to bring up our kids. They see the same people at different events and that helps them to feel safe. And it’s just a beautiful place.”

“It wasn’t what I had planned on doing so early in my career but it has been really good for family life and work/life balance, which was very much a “God thing”, Him giving me the courage to do that and take that path – it’s been good.”

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