Woman who helps rural patients nominated for award
FORMER Biloela resident Justine Christerson has been nominated for Australian of the Year for years of dedication to rural patients receiving medical care in Brisbane.
Mrs Christerson is the only person behind support group Breaking Down the Barriers for Rural Patients.
The support group was created in 2010 after a car accident killed Biolela resident Kyle Biddle and seriously injured two others.
"As a mum, I felt for the families. Life just stops for them right then and there," she said.
"It can be a very isolating experience to have to travel to a strange city, navigate the health system and care for a family member."
Mrs Christerson said she had become adept at dealing with crisis situations.
"I offer practical help. I am not a charity," she said.
"Often I will meet families who have not had the opportunity to leave their children's bedsides to grab a meal."
Mrs Christerson said she knew what it was like to have a child requiring urgent medical care.
Two years ago her son Korbyn was bitten by a snake in Biloela and had to be flown by the Royal Flying Doctors Service to Rockhampton.
"I didn't have any money or the time to even think about grabbing my wallet," she said.
"I know what it feels like to be too embarrassed to ask for help. That's why it's important for people to offer."
Mrs Christerson was overwhelmed by the nomination.
"I won't win but it's such an honour to have your name amongst other Australian of the Year nominees," she said.
"I am very grateful for the recognition and it reaffirms that the service is greatly needed."