Town of Bourke welcomes Notre Dame Medicine students

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Winter 27-7-2011

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle Campus

Publication Place



Coordinating a 1600km round trip from Sydney to the remote New South Wales town of Bourke for a group of Medicine students provided an exciting adventure and challenge for The University of Notre Dame Australia’s new Student Chaplaincy Convenor, Jessica Langrell.

The seven day trip with the students was the first regional project for Ms Langrell who joined the University’s Campus Life & Ministry Office at the beginning of 2011.

The Chaplaincy Bourke Service Trip was supported by the Bourke Shire Council and the Missionaries of Charity who provided accommodation and opportunities for students to engage with the local community.

Throughout the week, students assisted the Sisters with their work, which included conducting several home visits to families in the town, helping at their day care school as well as assisting them with their restoration work on their convent.

The students also worked with the local St Vincent de Paul Society to help set up a new kitchen for the Meals on Wheels program which provides food to nearly one fifth of the Bourke population of 2000.

Through the Bourke Police and Community Youth Centre (PCYC) and the Missionaries of Charity, the students had the chance to spend time with 200 local Aboriginal children when they hosted a ‘Community Festival’ on their second day in town.

The festival featured an afternoon of sport, entertainment, face painting, food and several activities for the youth of all ages.

Another afternoon session for the PCYC saw them teaching the children about basic medical skills.

Ms Langrell says the Bourke community and the medical students benefited greatly from the experience.

“By the end of our first day in Bourke, the whole town knew we were there. Many of the children were really touched by the fact that we had travelled a long distance to spend time with them,” Ms Langrell said.

“We (the Chaplaincy) noticed a strong interest from students towards the possibility of working in rural and remote communities.

“Through this trip, in combination with serving the local community, we wanted to provide access and firsthand experience for students to seriously consider the option. Immersing our students in towns like Bourke gives them the opportunity to gain an understanding of the challenges that these communities face.

“Not only does this experience give the medical students an opportunity to look at the possibilities of taking on a rural placement in the future, but also allows them to develop relationships and therefore better understand and meet the needs of the people.

“We felt very welcome and are grateful for the town’s support and generous hospitality. It is our hope to continue our relationship with the Bourke community by returning next year with another group.”

Pastoral care of students is at the centre of the University’s mission. The focus of the new position of Student Chaplaincy Convenor is to provide support for the spiritual and pastoral welfare of students on the Sydney Campus.

Media Contact: Leigh Dawson (+61) 8 9433 0569, Mob (+61) 0405 441 093