Country cabinet deferred over death

A country cabinet meeting planned for South Australia’s indigenous lands will be rescheduled to give locals time to grieve over the death of outback nurse Gayle Woodford.

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The SA cabinet was due to meet in the state’s Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in early May but the APY executive board has asked for the event to be deferred.

“We respect the APY executive board’s request. Given the impact of Ms Woodford’s death on many people, it is important to give APY communities time to grieve,” Aboriginal Affairs Minister Kyam Maher said.

Ms Woodford was found buried in a shallow grave on Saturday after going missing from her Fregon home, on the APY Lands, early on Thursday.

Mimili man Dudley Davey, 34, has been charged with her murder.

Ms Woodford worked in the local health clinic and community leaders say her death has left “many people hurting”.

It has also sparked an online petition calling for changes to ensure no nurses have to work solo, which has attracted more than 105,000 signatures.

Many other nurses have come forward with their own stories of being threatened, abused and attacked while working in remote communities.

Louise Johnston, who worked in the same area as Mrs Woodford a few years ago, said she felt unsafe, unsupported, overworked and unappreciated.

Racial and physical abuse, and verbal threats were normal, she said.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation state secretary Elizabeth Dabars said it had long lobbied for an end to single nurse posts.

“It’s absolutely an abomination that it’s taken another tragedy to bring attention to this important issue,” she said.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said the state government would reflect on the circumstances of Ms Woodford’s death and pledged not to put the issue aside.

The safety of remote nurses may also be discussed at Friday’s Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra.