Dr Melanie Matthews

New Fellow representative, RACGP Rural Council

Dr Melanie Matthews
Dr Melanie Matthews is the New Fellow representative for the RACGP Rural Council.  She currently lives and works in West Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory and loves the lifestyle and warm weather of the Top End. 

In her spare time she enjoys walking and cuddling her dogs, reading fiction, spending time with family and friends and travelling the world.



Find out more about Dr Melanie Matthews below

I am a New Fellow having achieved my Fellowship of the RACGP in 2017 and my Fellowship in Advanced Rural General Practice in 2019.  I currently work in Maningrida for Mala’la Aboriginal Health Board, a community controlled Aboriginal Medical Service.  Maningrida is the largest remote Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory with a population of approximately 3,500, and we do not have a hospital – we manage everything that walks in the door!

I specifically entered general practice to specialise in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, with a particular interest in rural and remote health in the Northern Territory.  It is an area of such need in the medical field, particularly in Primary Health Care, which is integral to improving health goals for our First Nations People.  I am also a firm believer in Aboriginal Medical Services, which are Community Controlled Organisations, giving community members a say in their health and what programs are needed in their specific community.

I grew up in rural Victoria and really enjoyed the lifestyle I had as I was growing up.  Whilst a medical student living in Melbourne, I had the opportunity to spend time in some remote communities in the Northern Territory through the John Flynn Placement Program, and also spend time with my family who were living in Katherine NT.  This sparked a love of remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and the then PGPPP program allowed me to realise that Primary Health Care was what I wanted to pursue.

The breadth of medicine I am exposed to on a daily basis is astounding.  I manage acute presentations, chronic disease, tropical health and also conditions that are generally not seen in the rest of the country, such as Melioidosis and Rheumatic Heart Disease.  I am never bored!  But I also have the opportunity to work with a remarkable team of GP’s, Remote Area Nurses, Aboriginal Health Practitioners, Allied Health Practitioners, and Community members, who are committed to providing a service that is culturally sensitive and aimed at improving the health and situation of our community.

The small wins and moments in remote health are important and are what keep me working in a challenging environment. The kids that give you a big hug at the end of the consult, the patient who comes in with controlled BSL’s after having poorly controlled diabetes but they have worked hard to improve them, being able to give IV antibiotics to patients who are unwell to save a trip into Darwin, being able to provide culturally appropriate end of life care to patients so they can die on country surrounded by family.  There are too many highlights to count. 

I would like to work with the RACGP Rural Council to improve the support provided to those working rural and remote locations.  It can be a very isolating and challenging environment to work in, and feeling connected to those in similar situations is so important to maintain longevity and prevent burnout in GPs working rurally. 

I have worked in remote settings for the majority of my GP career thus far.  I moved to the NT from bustling Melbourne with no intention of returning to a city.  I spent two and half years of my GP training living and working in Nhulunbuy in East Arnhem Land.  I finished off my training in Darwin and then spent a year locuming, mainly around remote NT and in correctional health, before settling in Maningrida, a one hour flight from Darwin.  I also have a base in Darwin and spend my weekends there with my family.  My journey so far has shown me that there is not one model for rural and remote careers and you can come up with a work-life balance that suits you. 


Contact your RACGP Rural Council

racgp.org.au/rural |  1800 636 764 |   rural@racgp.org.au