Sandy Gillies is a proud Gunggari woman and Winton local, but she is also the Chief Executive of the Western Queensland PHN. She was recently appointed to lead a health network covering almost a million square kilometres of Queensland. Sandy Gillies has led the WQPHN since January 2021, making her the first Indigenous person to be appointed CEO to the 31 Primary Health Networks across Australia. “There is a deep willingness in the West for people to work together and make things happen, regardless of their titles or their job description,” Ms Gillies said. “What we can tap into as the WQPHN are the strengths of the region and willingness of Western Queenslanders to stay engaged, and adapt to changing and challenging circumstances, in order to achieve the health outcomes everyone wants for their communities.”
Schooled in Winton and Charleville, Sandy completed her enrolled nurses’ qualification which ignited her passion for primary health care and fostered a hands-on approach to her work. “Outback nursing back then was a great introduction to the challenge of getting the most out of yourself as a clinician, and doing your best with the resources around you, which were often limited,” Sandy recalls. “I think that experience, and my journey through the health system since, has helped me understand how to get the best out of local communities by empowering them to care for their own, through collaboration, codesign and a place-based approach to primary healthcare because each community is unique.” An Executive Manager with the WQPHN for the past 3 years, Sandy has over 25 years of experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, starting as an Aboriginal Health Worker through to senior management roles in Indigenous health. “Twenty per cent of the people in our patch are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, a population that experiences a disproportionate rate of poor health,” said WQPHN Chairperson Dallas Leon, a proud Kalkadoon and Wannyi man. “Sandy already has a legacy of connecting with all communities across our region, but her track record of building relationships with our Indigenous cohort is outstanding, and we look forward to these relationships going from strength to strength under Sandy’s stewardship.”
Congratulations Sandy on your appointment – wonderful to see a proud indigenous woman leading such an important service in Western Queensland.