TCHHS claims top prize at Queensland Health Excellence Awards

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Wujal Wujal Director of Nursing Vince Connellan with Queensland Health Director- General Michael Walsh at the awards ceremony.


  • Wujal Wujal Primary Health Care Centre’s team claims top honours at the Queensland Health Award for Excellence.
  • 2 Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service entries were finalists.

Wujal Wujal Primary Health Care Centre’s team has claimed top honours at the Queensland Health Award for Excellence for their response to the 2023 flooding disaster.

The Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service (TCHHS) team were named winners of the Director-General’s Award for Excellence at the prestigious annual awards which were held in Brisbane on Wednesday night.

The team were one of two Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service entries which were named finalists at the awards.

The entire community of Wujal Wujal was evacuated in December last year due to flooding caused by ex-Tropical Cyclone Jasper.

Staff from the PHCC were forced to spend a night trapped on the clinic roof as floodwaters rose, while caring for a young patient and his mother.

The Wujal Wujal team, which includes nursing staff, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers, operational and administration staff, had been finalists in the the Strengthening our patients’ care category which focuses on sustainable, personalised healthcare that delivers outcomes that matter most to patients and the community.

Wujal Wujal PHCC Director of Nursing Vincent Connellan said he was incredibly proud of his staff for their dedication to the community, during the disaster, in the immediate aftermath as they helped lead the community evacuation, and for their ongoing support of the displaced community members.

“It has been an incredibly difficult time for all of our staff and our community,” he said.

“We were very lucky that night in that our patient remained stable and safe and myself and my colleagues weren’t harmed, but the community of Wujal Wujal has not been so lucky.

“Only now have residents begun to return – a population of 300 people – predominantly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with an incredibly strong connection to country - essentially made homeless in a night.

“This award is not just a recognition of our team’s hard work; it is a celebration of the values that define us as healthcare professionals and our dedication to both clinical and cultural safety.

“It reflects our unwavering commitment to serving our community with compassion, respect, and excellence.”

TCHHS Chief Executive Rex O’Rourke said it was a just reward for staff who had faced significant adversity since the event.

“To each member of the Wujal Wujal team, I extend my congratulations and heartfelt thanks,” he said.

“Your dedication has not only made a difference in the lives of those you cared for but has also set a standard of excellence that inspires us all.

“It is also a testament to the strong partnerships we have built within the community, in particular with the Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council, the Cook Shire Council and local traditional owners.

“The Wujal Wujal community members have shown such immense resilience during this challenging time and I’m so pleased we have been able to return clinically and culturally safe health services to the community so quickly with the construction of the temporary facility.

“I also recognise the staff across the entire region who pulled together to support their Wujal Wujal colleagues and the community, along with our partners at Retrieval Services Queensland, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the Queensland Ambulance Service and the Queensland Police Service.”

Mr O’Rourke also congratulated the team behind TCHHS’s Transition to Remote Practice Program who were finalists in the Prioritising our people category which celebrates a responsive, skilled, and valued workforce where staff feel supported.

The program, which was launched in 2022, allows motivated Registered Nurses direct entry into positions at TCHHS’s rural and remote facilities.

“To have two teams named as finalists among many high calibre entries shows the strength of the health care we are delivering to our communities, our strong cultural focus and how passionate we are about supporting our staff,” he said.