Irene Kelly
Irene Kelly

Irene Kelly

Indigenous Health Scholarship

Deakin University, VIC
Bachelor of Nursing
Scholarship Awarded 2018
Sponsored by:

Rotary Club of Cairns

Past Indigenous Health Scholarships Program

How will I contribute to improving Indigenous health as a qualified medical practitioner or health worker?

I have been working withing Aboriginal health for the past 6 years as the Indigenous Liaison Officer for Wuchopperen Health Service in Cairns region.   Through both my personal and working experiences I have seen first hand the health inequalities and the challenges that Aboriginal and Tortes Strait Islanders face today.   Health expectations for Indigenous people are still significantly lower than that of non-Indigenous.

Within the Cairns community there is a high population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders that reside here.   A lot still needs to be addressed if Indigenous health is to improve.   More needs to be invested in promotional activities in the health issues such as the prevention and management of chronic diseases, sexual health and the effects of tobacco use and other drugs.  Health care services for Indigenous people need to be accessible, affordable, acceptable, appropriate and accountable.

More health education needs to be directed into the importance of a healthy lifestyle which includes having regular health checks, antenatal care, exercise and eating a balanced diet for Indigenous people.    Indigenous health professionals are significantly underrepresented within the health care system and more Indigenous health workers need to be recruited to assist in the improvement of Indigenous health.   As an Indigenous registered nurse I can play a vital role to assist in improving these issues and the health status of Indigenous people.

Current Progressive Report

This semester was very challenging from the impact of COVID 19. The biggest challenge I faced this year was not being able to attend study blocks on campus in Geelong, Victoria due to COVID19.   By not being able to attend study blocks it was a real struggle for me to time manage my study commitments around my family life, particularly with my 6 year old twins as well as working full-time to provide for them.  Previously when I was able to attend study blocks, I was able to do a majority of my assessments and learning on campus as I was away from home, so I didn’t have work or family to distract me.  Also not being able to be on campus I was not able to have access to the simulation lab to practice my nursing skills with the support and knowledge of the lecturers.  It had been a year since I last did placement not being able to practice before I did the placement this semester was a bit overwhelming and I lacked a lot of confidence.  I am glad to say though that worked through my fear and was able to complete my placement successfully and confidently.

The highlight for this semester was doing placement at Cairns Hospital.  As already mentioned, it had been over a year since I had done my last placement, so it was good to be able to experience working in a hospital environment again and put my skills and training to use.   it was good to do the placement again in my hometown, so I did not have to leave my children to go and do it.  By doing the placement as Cairns Hospital I had the opportunity to provide nursing to some indigenous people who knew or they had links to my family, so I felt good looking after my own people in my own community.

Another highlight for me this semester was being successful in passing the unit.  It was a big sense of relief as I had failed this same unit last year which set me back a year from graduating.  So, I was very pleased with the result I accomplished. I had put a lot of time and effort into this unit, so I got the pass I needed.

My goals for next semester are to focus on successfully finishing my last unit. As I am still not able to travel to Geelong for study blocks, I am going to dedicate the significant time and be motivated to complete the required readings and assessments.  I have negotiated with my employer to allow me to attend my online seminars with the lecturer as it is during work hours  I am also focused be able to manage my time effectively, so I can balance my responsibilities as a single mum, my work and study.

As this will hopefully be my final unit and I will hopefully be graduating this year a goal of mine is to secure a graduation position at Cairns Hospital or within Torres and Cape Health either at Weipa Hospital or Thursday Island Hospital.  I want to gain a graduate position so I can get the mentor ship and extra support that is offered when you gain a graduate position.  So, fingers crossed.

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