Helen Haines has lived and worked as a nurse, midwife, health administrator and rural health researcher in north-east Victoria for over 32 years.
She lives with her husband Phil on a small beef farm by the King River outside Wangaratta, where she had the joy of raising her three children and many years running a farm-stay accommodation business.
Right up until standing for Indi she worked as a Senior Research Fellow with the University Of Melbourne Department Of Rural Health and Director of Education and Research Unit at Northeast Health Wangaratta.
Haines grew up with four brothers on the family dairy farm near Colac, Western Victoria.
“I was so lucky to lead a full country life- raising calves, helping in the dairy, harvesting hay. I attended Eurack state primary school, a tiny one room, one-teacher school where enrolments rarely exceeded 12 students.”
After completing year 12 in Colac, Haines followed the footsteps of her aunts and trained as a registered nurse at St Vincent’s Hospital and later as a midwife at the Mercy Maternity Hospital in Melbourne.
In 1986 she moved to Northeast Victoria beginning work as a midwife at Wangaratta Base Hospital before being appointed as youngest ever matron and Director of Nursing at the Chiltern Bush Nursing Hospital.
During her years running the hospital at Chiltern she learnt the fundamental importance of the local health service, schools and sporting clubs as touch stones of connection and lifeblood of small rural communities.
During this time she undertook a bachelor’s degree through distance study at Deakin University and later returned to Northeast Health Wangaratta where she was a foundation member in a small team of midwives as they established the Wangaratta Community Midwife Program.
This pioneering program recently celebrated 20 years of service to women and families across the region and is recognised as a world leader in rural midwifery care.
Haine’s passion for education, the kind of education that neither of her parents had access to, led Haines to further study in epidemiology and public health through a master’s degree at the UNSW which took her family to Uppsala University, Sweden, in 2004.
She later commenced her PhD at Uppsala University, completing a doctoral degree in Medical Science in 2012 and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, home of the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology.
The doctoral research work Haines completed in this time, relying on research conducted right here in Wangaratta, is now implemented in healthcare across the UK, Ireland, Europe and Scandinavia.
The skills, capacity & willingness to pitch in and make things happen are the key features of rural communities which inspire her to do what she can to contribute as well. Haine’s a board member of St Catherine’s Aged Care in Wangaratta and Indigo Power Community Energy Retailer.
Haine’s is also a former director of the Hume Medicare Local, former director, chair and now a life member of Ovens and King (now Gateway) Community Health Service, and former board member and chair of Wangaratta Unlimited, the economic advisory board to the Rural City of Wangaratta.
She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Alpine Valleys Community Leadership program.
As the current independent member for Indi Cathy McGowan prepares to leave the parliament, it’s a huge privilege for me to receive her endorsement and ‘receive the baton’ as an Independent Candidate [for Indi] at this Federal election.