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Staff Stories - A Yarn with Lazariah Nona

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We sat down to have a yarn about her work at Apunipima and the next exciting chapter in her life as she awaits the arrival of her first baby in a few short weeks.

When you meet Laz, you are struck by her quiet calm manner and the passion she has for her work here at Apunipima. It’s is easy to understand why we are sad to be losing her, even for a short time, as she begins the next exciting phase of her life as a new mum.

Laz started her career with Apunipima as a trainee, since then she has worked in a number of departments and communities. Until recently she was the medical receptionist at Apunipima’s Aurukun Clinic. In fact, she was part of the original team that opened the clinic. In the seven months since the clinic has opened she has seen the clinic go from strength to strength.

The early days were challenging, but Laz and the team managed the small teething problems by rolling up their sleeves and stepping through the problems one at a time.

“It’s been great to see us reduce clinic waiting times and help our clients, some who have chronic health conditions.” Laz said.

When asked what she found most interesting about the work in Aurukun, Laz said it was the people in community that she loved most. “I worked at the clinic in Hopevale, before I went to Aurukun and what surprised me the most was how different the two communities were. It’s really quite amazing.” Laz said.

Over the last seven months Laz has been able to form strong relationships within the community and the clients in Aurukun. “Building rapport and trust with community members was my first goal, because, when you have that, it makes everything else so much easier.”

Her commitment to building trust and rapport with the clinics patients, clients, colleagues and greater community was recognised in the recent Apunipima Staff Awards. Laz was awarded the Dignity in Service Delivery Award for integrity, respect and empathy in her work.

“Winning the award was wonderful, it was a huge surprise, I was pretty shocked when I won.” Laz said in her typical humble way.

Laz has now returned to the Cairns offices of Apunipima, for the last few weeks of work before she heads off on maternity leave.  “It’s nice to be back home in Cairns, because the next few weeks will be pretty busy getting ready for Bub.”

Family has always been very important to Laz, she is the youngest of s


ix children and with twenty four nieces and nephews, looking after little ones comes pretty naturally to her.  Laz’s immediate family live on Badu Island in the Torres Strait, but her parents will be in Cairns when the new baby arrives.

But, rest assured Apunipima is only losing Laz for a short time. She has plans to return to work later this year.

When we asked Laz where she saw her career heading, she thought carefully and answered “I’d like to be a team leader or a manager. I was the first kid in my family to finish school and the first one to leave the island for work. If I can do that, I can do anything.” 

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