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Osteos in the Outback

Meet Chris & Mandy, the Outback Osteos - two travelling Osteopaths heading around Australia in a bus named ‘Bussel Coyte’, with their pup, Ralph. Chris is the dreamer of the duo - constantly thinking of new and exciting plans which shape their journey. Mandy is the practical, super organised and forward-thinking-admin-whiz of the duo, graciously laying out the plans to put Chris’ dreams into action.

Over the past 18 months, Mandy & Chris have travelled over 60,000km’s around Australia in their bus, taking their skills, knowledge and passion to over 1,000 people in 40+ of the most remote communities across 5 states and territories in Australia.

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We spoke to these two inspiring Outback Osteos about their incredible 18 months on the road, here’s what they had to say:

What motivated you to take your careers on the road?

Having both studied Osteopathy, we noticed musculoskeletal health was a broadly neglected area of health, particularly in rural and isolated areas of Australia. We also noticed the ‘toughen up’ mentality in the country was at times causing neglect when it comes to musculoskeletal wellbeing and overtime, this can cause a variety of chronic pain and degenerative conditions - which in rural towns were going untreated. On the other hand, while working in Melbourne, we encountered clients who had driven hours on end from rural areas to finally see someone for a condition which had been present for months to even years prior. The conditions we were seeing could become so debilitating they impacted the person’s ability to work, providing for their families, which in-turn can affect an individuals mental wellbeing. The hardest part about these experiences for us, was that most of the time, the health case could have been treated before they became chronic if they had had regular access to Osteopathy.

We believe every Australian deserves adequate access to healthcare, so we made it our mission to provide hands on healthcare, education and mental wellbeing support to as many people as we could - from all walks of life, in every corner of this country.

Biggest learning?

The biggest thing we’ve learnt in the last 18 months is that you’ve got to step outside your comfort zone to see what you’re capable of. We’ve never been very good at putting ourselves out there, but this business has forced us to network and reach out to people all over the country. We’ve both grown so much as a result of this and we continue to push ourselves and the boundaries of what’s possible in a career as an Osteopath.

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Highlight of your past 18 months on the road?

That’s a really difficult question to answer. We’ve had so many amazing experiences. I think professionally the highlight for us was the first pop up clinic we ever set-up. It was a real roll of the dice, and the response we received propelled our business to what it is today. This spark moment for us came while we were in the very heart of this country, Uluru, in the town of Yalara. We treated camel farmers, firemen, tour operators, international guests, resort staff and of course the occasional nomad. Their closest healthcare option was a four hour drive and the gratitude we felt from each of these clients was such a special moment for us. This was the real kick starter for us as it gave us belief we were on the right path. The passion and excitement built from there.

Advice you give your clients when you move on to the next town?

The goal of our consultations is to get people back doing the things they love, and we encourage preventative measures to prolong the benefits of their session with us. Once they are moving better we really try to empower them to take charge of their health and we love to promote healthy movement as medicine. We prescribe patient specific exercises and tell all of our clients they can call us at any time of the day if they have any concerns or questions.

What lies ahead for your Outback Osteo business?

We have a dream of running student or graduate trips to the outback. We believe this would solve two problems at once:
1) Osteopathy students gain real world experience working on people who truly need their help, and
2) Outback communities gain increased access to healthcare. We have spent the last few months planning how this would look and hope to start taking students to remote locations as early as late 2021.

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Where do you see the future of Osteopathy in Australia?

The profession of Osteopathy is rapidly expanding in Australia and we want to encourage that spread to rural towns beyond just metropolitan areas. The awareness of what an Osteopath does in most rural towns is pretty little so we are trying to promote not only ourselves but the entire profession of Osteopathy. It’s beneficial to people’s health and wellbeing to have more than one option when experiencing musculoskeletal pain and we hope the spread of Osteopathy around the country will provide rural communities with further options.

Biggest opportunity in this area of health?

Physical health, wellbeing and mental health in rural and isolated communities. Australia is a beautiful but massive country and there are lots of communities out there that need more access to support. There’s a huge opportunity for young healthcare professionals to follow in our footsteps and travel to these incredible locations. After the events of 2020, communities all over are looking to get back on their feet and this often means increased work hours and neglecting their health as a priority due to financial and travel barriers. That’s why it is so important to encourage this spread of practitioners so people in these communities have the same access to healthcare as those who work and live in inner metropolitan areas.

Needless to say, the work Mandy & Chris (and Ralph!) are up to is inspiring. To keep up to date with the purpose-filled mission they are on as they travel around in Bussel Coyte, follow along @outbackosteos.

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