Diabetes Queensland and Torres and Cape Hospital and Health
Service have formed a partnership to provide an exciting dietetics
program in Thursday Island and the Northern Peninsula Area.
Kiah Peterie, who has an undergraduate Science degree and a
Master's in Nutrition and Dietetics, has lived and worked on
Thursday Island for the past two years in one of the Allied Health
Rural Generalist Trainee positions.
Kiah is one of two dietitians for the Torres and Cape Hospital
and Health Service (TCHHS), seeing clients not only on Thursday
Island but also 15 outlying islands and five communities on the
Northern Peninsula Area where people need advice if living with
diabetes and to prevent or delay onset of the condition.
"The region has a high need for a nutrition workforce," Kiah
said. "Torres Strait Islanders have a greater genetic risk of
developing type 2 diabetes than other Australians.
"Food access and environmental constraints means obesity
and childhood obesity is a big issue."
From July 1, Kiah's position will be funded by My
health for life, a chronic disease prevention program led by
Diabetes Queensland and funded by the Queensland Government;
Diabetes Queensland through funding from the National Diabetes
Services Scheme; and by the TCHHS. Kiah will be supported by the
senior dietitian, Marissa Arnot, at TCHHS, who has worked closely
with Kiah, Diabetes Queensland and My health for life to enable and
set up this service.
Executive Director of Allied Health at TCHHS, Vivienne Sandler
said: "I am very positive about the benefits for our communities
from the work of the combined programs from TCHHS and Diabetes
Queensland. I am confident that dietitians contribute important and
significant work in promoting health and wellbeing and preventing
disease. Our dietitians on Thursday Island are committed and highly
skilled in providing this service."
"This is a good example of an innovative alliance securing
regional services," Diabetes Queensland CEO Sturt Eastwood
"We want to make sure that the
Queenslanders who need it most are getting the help they need."
"Retaining a full-time dietitian for the Torres Strait will make
a real difference to this community."
Kiah said it was vital that people know they can prevent or
delay diabetes, and that if diagnosed, it's important to manage
diabetes and delay complications. "Control it well and you can
Complications include heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, limb
amputation, depression/anxiety and blindness.
"Many of the people I see think that once they have diabetes
they'll get complications. It's not inevitable. There are steps
they can take, such as taking a look at their diet and increasing
exercise, which will help them avoid or delay complications," she
"Just taking medication is never going to
be as good as the combination of the right medication, diet and
Kiah said adjusting the usual risk factors can have a profound
"Reducing soft drink and white rice, eating smaller portions as
well as increasing vegetable intake, can make a big
The dietitian moved from northern NSW with her partner, an
electrician, to live on Thursday Island two years ago. She has
found a rewarding and meaningful career in this remote coastal
region of Queensland.
"People appreciate the help. I want to keep building the
relationships in the community, and get organisations both in the
private and public sectors to work together so that people can get
help wherever they live."