Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Gippsland Aboriginal students check out health careers

Two students learning about careers in the health sector at Just Looking@Careers in Health
A group of eleven local Aboriginal secondary school students recently spent time learning about possible careers in the health sector as part of a long and established relationship between the Monash School of Rural Health (SRH) East & South Gippsland and the Centre of Excellence for Aboriginal Health in East Gippsland (CEAHEG).

SRH East & South Gippsland Director Dr David Campbell said the program, known as Just Looking@Careers in Health, mostly involves local year eight and nine students and aims to encourage young Aboriginal students to consider jobs in the health profession.

The sessions, which have now run on three occasions through a partnership with CEAHEG and Monash SRH, will be held eight times every year. They see CEAHEG and Monash SRH work with schools in local towns and involve Bairnsdale Regional Health Service staffers, who talk about their roles and help to ‘demystify’ their professions.

School of Rural Health staff and Monash medical and nursing students also show the school students around the School of Rural Health's skills laboratory, which is the site of a range of simulation activities for students, health educators and service providers across the region.

The Smith Family has also been actively involved in the sessions.

 Dr Campbell said the student events, which offer an important opportunity for connection between local Aboriginal students and health professionals, also form a critical part of SRH East & South Gippsland’s support for the CEAHEG.

SRH East & South Gippsland has been working with the local Aboriginal community over past years, to help expand the Aboriginal health professional workforce through CEAHEG. Dr Campbell and Dr Jane Greacen have contributed to research to understand the barriers and issues faced by local Aboriginal families and students in completing school, attending university and pursuing health careers.

Research outcomes were discussed at a major CEAHEG conference held in Bairnsdale last year. The conference was attended by local Elders and other members of the East Gippsland Aboriginal community, health service representatives, local health practitioners, university academics, secondary school representatives and members of local, state and federal government.

Dr Campbell said SRH East & South Gippsland’s work with CEAHEG had enjoyed some local successes with two local Aboriginal students commencing paramedic training, supported by Ambulance Victoria, and other allied health personnel recruited to Bairnsdale Regional Health Service from the Aboriginal community.

Drs Campbell and Greacen have also worked to improve the educational experience of Monash medical students on clinical placements by establishing tutorials on local Aboriginal culture and health.

Elder Doris Paton, who is Chairperson of CEAHEG, Bonnie O’Shanassy who is the Koorie Hospital Liaison Officer, and Dr Jane Greacen who works as a GP at GEGAC, deliver these tutorials at the SRH Bairnsdale site.

“The SRH East & South Gippsland footprint covers many Aboriginal communities,” Dr Campbell said. “We understand the importance of engaging with these communities in a local and meaningful way; designing and delivering Aboriginal curriculum and working in partnership with local health professionals to increase employment prospects for Aboriginal people in this sector – that is the most effective way to improve the health of the East Gippsland Aboriginal community.”

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