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Physiotherapist Chooses Rural Healthcare Career For Quality Of Life

Harriet Cook with her son Arnoux. She is a physiotherapist who was recruited by RWAV to work at Gippsland Lakes Community Health – Lakes Entrance.

Physiotherapist Chooses Rural Healthcare Career For Quality Of Life

Harriet Cook is a Physiotherapist who was recruited by RWAV to work at Gippsland Lakes Community Health – Lakes Entrance. The role provides her with an improved work-life balance, to be closer to nature and to provide her son, Arnoux, with the opportunity to explore the beauty of the Australian landscape. We caught up with Harriet to learn more about how choosing a rural healthcare career works for her and her family.

Tell me briefly about your role at Gippsland Lakes Community Health – Lakes Entrance.
I am working four days a week as a Grade 2 Physiotherapist at Gippsland Lakes Community Health (Lakes Entrance). In this role I run a variety of groups including a neurological rehabilitation group for clients with Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and any other kinds of neurological conditions, along with a falls prevention group.

In my role I also help people with a variety of conditions, including rehabilitation post orthopaedic surgery, musculoskeletal conditions, persistent pain, vestibular and neurological conditions. I see a huge variety of clients and I am really enjoying developing my physiotherapy skills in all these different areas.

Would you recommend RWAV’s recruitment process to others?
I would definitely recommend RWAV’s recruitment process to others. I applied for the job through RWAV and felt supported right from the get go. RWAV helped to answer all of my questions, supported me through the interview process and assisted in negotiating my work arrangements. I was assisted financially with a relocation grant, which made the move from Melbourne to East Gippsland with my partner and our 18 month old son happen smoothly. I have ongoing support from RWAV’s and it has made me feel really supported and cared for during this transition.

I understand you provided healthcare in a metro area before going rural. What inspired you to work rurally?
Before moving to East Gippsland to work at Gippsland Lakes Community Health I was working as a Grade 2 Physiotherapist at St. Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne (community-based rehabilitation).

The main reason for wanting to work rurally was to have better access to nature and to have a better work-life balance. I feel a deep sense of peace waking up with the chirping of birds every morning, watching the rising sun splattering its pink hues over the magnificent Gippsland Lakes, driving home from work through eucalyptus forests and spending the weekends swimming or hiking.

My childhood was spent exploring the Gippsland Lakes and I have my immediate family living here. I wanted to offer my son a childhood of freedom, where he can explore the beauty of the Australian landscape without the constraints and pressures of the adult world and to also have his extended family around him. My son is the happiest that I have ever seen him, he plays outside all day, throwing rocks off the jetty and gazing in awe at pelican feathers, banksia’s and pig-face seaweed, he is learning so much about the Australian environment. Since living in the countryside, I feel a balance between work and life. Being away from the traffic, consumerism and the concrete of the city brings deep contentment and the weekends seem longer when filled with oceans, mountains and lakes.

I also love the sense of community that living in the country offers, people are friendly and have time for you and I really feel appreciated in my physiotherapy role. I feel that my physiotherapy role provides me with a great opportunity to continue to develop as a neurological physiotherapist, whilst also developing a broad range of physiotherapy skills in other areas, which I believe enhances the provision of best client care.
I know that living in the country means that I can have a fulfilling physiotherapy career, find a healthy lifestyle balance and also give my son an unforgettable childhood. The added bonus is that we can afford to be homeowners.

Any unexpected positive experiences you’d like to share, working in this rural area?
There are lots of wonderful things happening in East Gippsland, with food and wine festivals, top restaurants, theatres, endless free child friendly events, lake-side outdoor yoga and good coffee, I have been pleasantly surprised with what is happening in East Gippsland.

Before being here, I didn’t realise the positive effect of being more connected with nature, I feel like the best version of myself when I have this connection. The country life helps you to appreciate the small joys of life…like watching an echidna waddle across the backyard on a quest for its next ant feast.

RWAV is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health through the Rural Health workforce Support program to provide recruitment services and support.

Msc (Fin), FCCA, FGIA, CA

Shay brings over 20 years of financial
management experience in commercial and not-for-profit organizations. He has a
rich and varied experience in multiple finance and leadership roles in the
United Kingdom and Australia, including CFO, GM Finance & IT, Commercial
Manager Operations, Finance Manager and Accountant.

His extensive leadership experience is
augmented by an FGIA, FCCA, CA, a Masters in Finance and an undergraduate degree in
accounting and finance.

RN, GradDip(Health Promotion), PRINCE2, Mini MBA

Kate is a Registered Nurse highly experienced in health promotion and project management. Her people and program management skills enable her to be agile and adaptable while maintaining an outcomes focus on improving quality access to primary healthcare.

Kate’s extensive experience working with all levels of government, the community and stakeholders across the sector have provided her with insights into the challenges rural communities and health professionals face. Kate has led the design and delivery of many innovative and strategic health promotion and grants programs, supporting better access to health services, health information and activities across communities. Whilst at RWAV, Kate has led the transformation of the RWAV grants program, enhanced the administration of a number of programs and developed the RWAV allied health portfolio. She has also led the development of the RWAV research program of activities.

Having worked at RWAV since 2020, Kate will continue positively influencing the rural healthcare workforce and access to services.

Social Work (BA Hons), DipSW

With a background in social work and a proven record in recruitment, project management, and business development, Jo brings strategic leadership and a wealth of experience in driving positive outcomes within the health, human services, and State Government sectors.

Jo specialises in managing health professional recruitment and outreach programs, including the More Doctors for Rural Australia and 3GA programs. Her focus is on implementing innovative workforce strategies and clinical governance to bolster RWAV’s mission of enhancing healthcare accessibility in rural and regional Victoria.

Having previously excelled at RWAV, Jo spearheaded successful internal change initiatives while fostering strong relationships with external stakeholders. Her efforts consistently align with RWAV’s strategic direction, ensuring a cohesive approach to driving impactful change.

Beyond her professional expertise, Jo’s passion lies in uniting communities and championing positive transformations in rural healthcare in Victoria.

Martin is a governance professional and lawyer with experience in private practice and in-house legal roles. He has been a company secretary for public and private sector organisations across a range of industries including VicTrack, Regis Healthcare Limited and Dairy Australia Limited. He holds Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Commerce degrees from the University of Melbourne, a Graduate Diploma in Applied Corporate Governance from the Governance Institute of Australia (GIA) and is a fellow of the GIA.

With a rich background of consulting and in-house people and culture roles with the corporate, government and community sectors, Andrea is responsible for leading the implementation of RWAV’s People and Culture strategy, policies, processes, functions and team.

Andrea has significant experience in leading teams across culture, capability, diversity, equity, leadership, organisational development and learning programs as well as core human resources partnering.

With a strong focus on building and maintaining psychologically safe organisations, Andrea’s team is dedicated to ensuring that RWAV is a place where people can work well and be well at work.


Rosemary has had a varied career as an academic teaching economics, public policy and industrial relations, and as a consultant, advocate, health union official and as a director.

She brings strong governance and strategic skills to the Board, as well as knowledge and depth of experience in health policy, economics and investment.

Rosemary was a Director of Aware Super for nine years, and Chair of the Investment Committee for three years. She was also a member of the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee, the Governance Committee and the REM and HR Committee. Rosemary is currently a member of the Investment Committee of Cbus.

She was the Secretary of the Victorian Psychologists Association Inc for 20 years and knows first-hand the difficulties in attracting and retaining health professionals in rural and regional Victoria.

Dr Louise Manning is a rural GP Obstetrics trainee practising in Central Victoria where she delivers general practice, obstetric and sexual health services. Growing up in a small town she has lived experience of the difficulties accessing healthcare in rural and regional areas, and is dedicated to advocating for equitable health outcomes regardless of geography.

Louise is also a Board Director of the Rural Doctors’ Association of Victoria.

BAppSci GradDipBus MBus GAICD FIML

John Biviano is an experienced senior executive who has held many senior roles in government (Health Dept) and also in professional associations related to healthcare. Until recently, John was the CEO of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, where he oversaw the digitisation of a range of Member offerings, including aspects of training. 

BA (Politics/Philosophy) BEc GDipBus MBA GAICD FGIA

Roger is an accomplished CEO, Non-Executive Director and Chair with experience in the health, human services, law enforcement, education, transport, and environmental industries – across private, public sector and not-for-profit organisations

.He brings strong governance experience, commercial acumen, risk management and strategy skills combined with a passion for innovation and business development having also been Chair of numerous Finance, Audit, Risk, Investment and Community Advisory Committees.


Assoc Prof Phelps has practiced as a Gastroenterologist and Acute Physician in regional Victoria for more than 20 years.

He trained in safety and quality at Dr Brent James’ Institute at Intermountain Healthcare in the US and has held management and leadership roles in Victoria and Tasmania. More recently he completed a two-year project as Director of Clinical Governance for Central Adelaide Local Health Network.

Grant currently works as an independent consultant providing advice to hospitals and organisations on clinical leadership and safety and quality

LLB BSc MMgt (Strategic Foresight) GAICD

As a lawyer and business consultant Jane has worked with company boards and senior management across a range of areas including IP commercialisation, internet-based businesses, healthcare products/services, privacy and data/IT security. Jane is currently general counsel for .id Consulting – population demographers, economists and forecasters.

Jane served as a director of BreastScreen Victoria for 10 years, is a current director of Ballarat Health Services and chairs RWAV’s Governance Committee.

BMed MMedSci FRACGP FARGP FACRRM DipPractDerm DipMedHyp DipFP DipBusAdmin GAICD

Assoc Prof Rawlin is an experienced General Practitioner and medical educator. He is currently in clinical general practice in suburban Melbourne and previously practiced in rural Victoria for 10 years.

Assoc Prof Rawlin is Chair of the General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaborative and a past Chair of the Mental Health Professionals Association and is a board member of the Mental Health Professionals Network. He is also the Medical Director of the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Victoria.
He is a member of the RACGP Victoria Council.

Albert Giorgini is the Senior Advisor to CEO at RWAV.

As an experienced finance executive, with an extensive career in public transport and in the automotive and industrial gas sectors, Albert has honed his skills in driving financial performance improvements with a commercial and business transformation focus.

Through his strategic financial skills, Albert has demonstrated an exceptional capacity to lead and develop large teams in complex and changing environments to achieve the financial and regulatory requirements of the business. His extensive experience has given him a deep understanding of the industry and its challenges, equipping him with the expertise to drive impactful change.

Albert has highly developed communication and stakeholder management skills to support his strong planning, analytical and financial performance improvement acumen, always striving to create innovative solutions that drive growth and success.


Lauren commenced in the role of Manager People and Culture in August 2018 and is responsible for leading the implementation of RWAV’s People and Culture strategy, policies, processes, functions and team.

Lauren’s team is committed to implementing activities and initiatives to support the achievement of RWAV’s strategies and strengthen RWAV’s position as an ‘Employer of Choice’.

Lauren is an experienced Manager and HR professional, with a career spanning the professional services, automotive, defence, and not-for-profit sectors.

BHlthSci(Hons) MPH PostGradDipMgt GAICD AFCHSM

Lauren Cordwell commenced in the role of Chief Executive Officer in August 2023. She took on the role of Acting CEO in April 2023 and previously served as the General Manager since February 2020.
Lauren has leadership responsibilities for strategy, communications, data, stakeholder engagement and program delivery.

Lauren’s team is committed to supporting communities in rural and regional Victoria to have timely access to affordable and safe health care.

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