• Loddon Herald

State award for Naomi

NAOMI Malone has set about earning the trust of rural communities since beginning her psychology practice in the region six years ago.

“You have to earn that trust in the community,” said the Boort-based allied health professional who has just been named one of eight annual award recipients by Rural Workforce Agency Victoria.

Naomi’s recognition for outstanding contribution by a rural allied health professional is an honour.

But more importantly, Naomi says it puts the focus on mental health “and as a practice, underpins the integrity of what we do”.

“We are working really hard here so that people know they can rely on us to be professional and give quality care,” she said. “RWAV is about creating greater professional networks between GPs and other allied health professionals.

“It’s all about how many people we can support ... the more people we have the honour of helping.”

Naomi started private practice renting a room in Kerang one day a week before shifting to Boort in 2017 and now employing a team of 13.

“Perceptions around mental health, mental wellbeing, has started to shift and we can reach out to more and help sooner,” she said.

“COVID has certainly rattled people and there is a collective trauma that we have all been through. People are burnt out by constant changes and the anxiety around it.

“We are seeing more change at the individual level and also starting to see a shift in the community. But there must always be that sense of privacy - it’s all about trust.”

Naomi’s practice is now providing service across the Loddon and adjoining areas.

And her team includes staff training under supervision for the final stages of placement to achieve full registration.

She says there are currently three interns - one originally from Brisbane, one from Adelaide and a New Zealander.

“They are early career professionals who come here for the country lifestyle. It’s awesome to be working in a rural area,” Naomi said.

She says the Boort-based practice also provided early professional work training not available in larger communities.

“Our practice assists right across a broad range of areas that include NDIS, victim assistance, children, the elderly family and couple,” she said.

“We have clients basically anywhere north of Bendigo and provide outreach services in Wedderburn, Charlton, Cohuna and Swan Hill.

“Providing mental health services is essential for every community - from helping people deal with grief and loss to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

“The RWAV award is a team effort and shows the integrity of the professional people in our local region.”

Naomi has worked in rural practice for almost two decades. The award citation said: “Dr Malone’s reputation for providing quality clinical supervision has also led to her being a highly sought-after clinical supervisor for experienced psychologists Australia wide.”

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