Indigenous Health Scholarship
University of Western Australia, WA
Master of Social Work
Scholarship Awarded 2021 – 2022
Rotary Club of Kalamunda & Dr King Gan
How will I contribute to improving Indigenous health as a qualified medical practitioner or health worker?
Due to the ongoing impacts of colonisation, Indigenous peoples have an over represented presence within social service fields. However, significant research has indicated that Western social work practice is often unhelpful and can be damaging for Indigenous people, their families and communities. This is being increasingly recognised in the field of social work. Evidence also supports that social work practice by Indigenous people for Indigenous people is healing and beneficial. The lack of choice and control Aboriginal people have over social work is evident in the lack of Aboriginal social workers. Indigenous perspectives and practitioners are required to support the healing of Indigenous communities. Increasing evidence also shows that what works for Aboriginal peoples, also works well for mainstream communities, demonstrating a broader benefit of the increased inclusion of Indigenous peoples in practice.
It is critical for the Indigenous community to be able to actively participate in the shaping and delivery of this fundamental service to improve the quality of the service, its outcomes, and allow for the self determination of Aboriginal people in Australia. This is why I would like to use my Master of Social Work degree to support the improvement of social work as a practice,and particularly social policy. The policies around the welfare of Aboriginal people have not always been to the benefit of Aboriginal people, and still today policies negatively affect Aboriginal people. This is why I want to work on reviewing, developing and implementing policies and strategies with Aboriginal people in mind to help to bridge this gap.
I believe that having Indigenous social workers changing things internally is a requirement to accomplish the development of social work to be an inclusive and effective service for Indigenous clients.
Current Progressive Report
Since my last report I have finished my second and final field placement at the Australian Childhood Foundation (ACF) working under Aunty Glenda Kickett and I am just starting my final four units at UWA. My placement at ACF ended well, and with a job offer to work with Aboriginal children in out-of-home care at ACF/Karla Kuliny once I finish my degree, so I am really looking forward to this. I have also had an offer to work as a research assistant at UWA on a study into identifying the needs of Aboriginal children, it has been a very eventful and exciting semester for me.
My placement at ACF ended up being an amazing experience and I got to be involved in learning across many different fields. I finally got to do more policy work that I always wanted to do, and I have loved doing this, and had some amazing teachers guiding me through this. I also had a lot of other learning opportunities while I was there, I participated in counselling sessions, I did some work on a project designing a family and domestic violence therapy service. I worked with the Department of Communities and UWA around how to recruit more Aboriginal Carers, I helped work on a tender application and I got to work on a cultural framework. I also got to work a lot around how ACF and Karla Kuliny stepping into the out-of-home care space would work and what it would look like. In addition, I got to utilise ACF’s amazing training opportunities and do some therapeutic dolls training and developmental trauma training, I am hoping to get to do more of this in the future. My placement at ACF helped prepared me for stepping out as a social worker into many different areas of social work, that I hadn’t before this gotten to experience.
I am now just starting my final four units, Social Work Methods 4: Consolidating Theory and Practice, Legal and Organisational Contexts, Applied Social Work Practice and Social Work and Mental Health Practice. These units cover some more in-depth mental health training, and more of how social workers fit into organisations and what roles there are, they should also teach more about how to design frameworks. I’m looking forward to these units covering more practically applicable skills and learning more about what social workers can do. I’m sure these unit will be important in helping me prepare for my future career as a social worker.
I am more excited than ever to be finishing this degree and starting to work more towards improving the health outcomes for Aboriginal people. Throughout this degree I have had the opportunity to experience so many different types of social work and I have loved every part of it. The opportunities this degree is offering me is far greater than what I ever thought when first entering it and I cannot wait for when I graduate in October. I am enormously grateful for the support that I have received from Australian Rotary Health Indigenous Health Scholarship to help make completing this degree possible and I am confident that I will be able to pay it forward with my work in the future.