British nurse forced out of Australia after taking job 'no one wants'

The health worker said Queensland's Mt Isa 'looked just like any dusty old town' — but says it was harbouring a troubling reality.

British nurse Kelly Wainwright inset over the top of a still of Mt Isa in Queensland.
British nurse Kelly Wainwright said she took a role 'nobody wanted'. But after a while, neither did she. Source: 9News/Getty

A British nurse who always dreamt of calling Australia home said she was forced to flee the country over fears for her safety, due to ongoing teenage violence and crime plaguing the outback town where she lived.

UK-born health worker Kelly Wainwright said she took a role "that nobody wanted" in the Queensland town of Mt Isa, in the state's northwest, due to her visa sponsorship prospects being limited elsewhere. Wainwright, 43, said the area "just looked like any dusty old cowboy town in the middle of the outback" — but says it harboured a sinister secret.

Accepting a role as the sexual unit health manager at Mt Isa Hospital — a position that was vacant for two years prior to her arrival — Wainwright said she thought it'd be "the weather or the creepy crawlies" that would eventually drive her from Australia, not "for one second" did she think it would be "the volatility of the area".

Screen grabs of a violent brawls that erupted at Kelly Wainwright's home in Mt Isa, involving her 14-year-old family member.
The 14-year-old family member living with Wainwright was allegedly subjected to repeated violence by teens in the town. Source: 9News

Just six weeks into her stay, Wainwright's government-assigned accomodation was broken into, marking the start of a downward trajectory for the nurse that would eventually see her flee the country altogether. Months later, she says her home was targeted by teenagers, who allegedly viciously assaulted a 14-year-old relative staying with her, 9News reported.

Footage of the alleged attack shows a brutal brawl ensue between at least three teenage girls at Wainwright's former property. The vision depicts the girls kicking, punching, slapping and attacking one another. It's not known what led to the violent incident.

Wainwright reported the attack to police but claims she was told in response by an officer: "You live in Mt Isa, I suggest you go and learn how to fight".

Yahoo News Australia has contacted Queensland Police for comment regarding the alleged advice.

Amid increased calls for a crackdown on youth violence in Mt Isa, more than 30 young people were arrested in a week-long blitz between April 26 and May 3, resulting in 84 charges, The North West Star reported this week.

Kelly Wainwright, 43, is pictured here in a screen grab of a video call. She said she felt unsupported in Australia and felt she had to quit her job and flee as a result of Mt Isa's ongoing crime problem.
Wainwright, 43, said she felt unsupported in Australia and felt she had to quit her job and flee. Source: 9News

Wainwright's superiors were at one stage so concerned for her wellbeing they contacted senior health officials to request that she and the young girl be moved to more secure accomodation. However that request was denied, she said.

Emails obtained by Nine News reveal Wainwright's manager stated: "I have fears for Kelly and her family's immediate emotional wellbeing as a result of informing them that their request to move was not supported."

Wainwright's colleague continued to call for "immediate action" to be taken to "ensure their safety". "This may involving moving their household to alternative accomodation," the email read.

In the end with her visa conditions tied to the job, and the awful experience she endured, the much-needed nurse decided to simply leave the country.

"The answer was just no, we're not moving them," Wainwright said, adding that she felt she was forced to quit and flee soon after. The 43-year-old insisted she was in such a hurry to abandon the town, she "gave up all her possessions".

"I just gave them all away and off we went with just our suitcases," she said.

An aerial shot of Mt Isa.
Mt Isa is a mining town in Queensland's northwest. Source: Mt Isa Tourism

Not being supported in "the way that we should've been" was "really disheartening", Wainwright told Nine News.

North West Hospital and Health Service (HHS) would not comment on individual matters but said it provides "safe" accomodation that "meets the needs of our employees".

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.