Turley passes gauntlet
Saturday, 3rd July, 2021
By Emily McInerney
After over four decades in the health service, Darriea Turley is passing the gauntlet on. Mrs Turley had her last day as Community Engagement Manager for the Far West Local Health Service on Wednesday; after enjoying a career that has spanned 42 years.
She started her career as a nurse in 1979.
“I originally attended Hawksbury Ag College but I found it so hard to be away from home,” Mrs Turley said.
“My mother said I could only come back if I started nursing, the CEO of the hospital at the time allowed me to enrol.”
From there, Mrs Turley took part in external study, taking on social sciences and community development.
“I developed HIV/AIDS clinics for the whole of the Far West, from Lighting Ridge to Balranald.
“In 2004, I took the opportunity to become the community engagement manager for the Greater Western Area Health Service (now FWLHD).
“It was a great opportunity and I was able to develop health councils to allow the consumers voice to be heard.”
Mrs Turley also helped contribute to the volunteer programs that the health service runs.
In 2018, Mrs Turley was recognised with a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for her contribution to health, social welfare, and education, and her efforts to champion women in local government.
As a local government leader and stalwart supporter of diversity and gender equality, Mrs Turley has been an influential figure at local, national, and international levels for over three decades.
She said her interest in serving others grew from an early age, when she began volunteering with Lifeline after school.
“I remember volunteering for the first time when I was in high school, I attended Lifeline Tuesday afternoons with Reverend Brian Nicholls.
“My school friends and I would do whatever tasks Brian had for us, and then we would sit there talking with him about life and the universe.
“It was pure magic, it’s amazing how people inspire you at such an early stage.”
She had also received strong support from her family when it came to serving her community.
“A lot of it was thanks to my family, they were always very active in the community,” she said.
“Volunteering was just what you did! There were no questions - you just helped out at any event.”
After transitioning from school to the workplace, Mayor Turley said she maintained her keen interest in leadership and community service while raising a family.
“From there it was being involved in school fundraising committees, and just trying to go that extra mile for others at work,” she said.
“I started taking roles in leadership outside of work and undertook further study, and as a Fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation I had the opportunity to investigate community and economic development in other countries.”
Mrs Turley went on to become the first HIV/AIDS rural worker in Australia and developed associated programs across the Far West.
She was also one of the inaugural winners of the Gallipoli Scholarship, which saw her travel overseas and take part in innovative treatment and care training which would be utilised in the Far West.
“I was very grateful to be given that study opportunity.
I’ve always been passionate about trying to understand, improve and explore new opportunities to benefit our community and our region.”
After receiving her AM, Mayor Turley said she remained thankful to her family and workmates for helping her through every step of her life.
“I wouldn’t have been able to achieve any of this without the support of my husband Darryl, my children Johnathon and Curtis, and the support of my family,” she said.
“I am also very grateful for the support from NSW Health and my managers over the years. My career was important to me, and the work outside of Health was an unexpected opportunity that I loved.”
Mayor Turley also saved a special mention to her hometown and its residents.
“It’s humbling that a girl in the outback can receive such recognition. I love the life I have, and one of the biggest achievements - apart from my family - was to be elected Mayor of our great city.
“I have been serving the community on the Council since 1995 and I’m so proud the community has had faith in me for all those years.
“It has been a gift to be able to serve our community and other incredible organisations over so many years, and I would sincerely like to thank the community of Broken Hill for supporting me.”
Mrs Turley’s profile and achievements along with her considerable contribution to local council she has been the Manager Community Engagement, Far West Local Health District, since 2004; Sexual Health Coordinator 1996-2006, MERIT Program Developer 2004; HIV Community Worker 1990- 1997 and Chair Broken Hill and District Cancer Network.
“I had planned to resign from the health service when I was elected mayor,” she said.
“But the hospital was seeking accreditation and I helped with that - which was delayed by COVID.”
Mrs Turley said she will be forever grateful to all the staff at the hospital.
“From the unsung heroes; cleaners, administration officers to the senior staff and former board members. I wouldn’t have the opportunities I’ve had over the years without support from NSW Health.”
Mrs Turley said she was able to grow within the service and never felt the need to leave.
“Broken Hill is my home and it is where my heart is, I never considered leaving the health service. But I do feel it is timely now.
“I can solely focus on my role as mayor and I wish whoever goes into those roles all the enjoyment and satisfaction I had over many years.”