Indigenous Health Scholarship 2018
University of Wollongong, NSW
Masters of Indigenous Health
Scholarship Awarded 2017
Rotary Club of Wetherill Park
Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga NSW
Bachelor of Health Science (Mental Health)
Scholarship Awarded 2015 – 2016
Rotary Club of Wagga Wagga Sunrise
How will I contribute to improving Indigenous health as a qualified medical practitioner or health worker?
I have been working in and around Aboriginal social justice and health for a very long time and have learned many different skills and approaches. I draw from these to address the specific needs of the particular individual and families with whom I work with. All of these are strength-based in the sense that they do not conceptualise ‘pathology’ within a person but rather see individuals as doing the best they cna within the circumstances in which they find themseleves.
I am influenced by Urie Bronfenbrenner who is most know for his ecological systems theory of child development. Whilst working in a culturally respectful framework I use his systems approach to draw upon and incorporate, mindfulness, acceptance and trauma focused CBT.
I truly believe that by strengthening the social and cultural wellbeing of individuals, families and communities – promoting resilence, empowerment, safety and respect and by having conversatons with people we can lessen the gap by:
- working with (rather than working ‘on’) Indigenous Communities;
- ensuring the service is culturally competent;
- focusing on having the hard conversations respectfully;
- cultivating networks and relationships; and
- adopting a strength based action approach to recovery.
Current Progressive Report
I must admit that I am glad to see the end of 2017 for the last 6 months personally has been a struggle. It is quite an interesting time navigating the work – life balance due to my own mental health. There was a great deal going on for me from pressures at work, development training, gatherings and trying to meet key performance indicators and occasion of service to the death of a long serving staff member.
In saying that my work family, family and friends have been very supportive, and I have been to get through without too much loss of leave and friendships. It is quite remarkable seeing people come together and lend support when you are open about what is going on for yourself. Through the journey of learning and all my studies that is one thing that I have learnt and do well. Speak out about mental health issues and be open to help when offered. Mental health and mental illness are the quite killer and it is only when we share our pain and story that people can offer help.
My university also had some turmoil with staff leaving which impacted on supports within School of Medicine and Indigenous Health. Our main coordinator took leave without notice for reasons that were not disclosed to us as students, and there was no replacement for three months. This occurred right in the middle of assessment times and at this time I was struggling so I applied for extensions due to medical grounds.
Moving on, I had some other training commitments during the last six months which has now seen me qualify to facilitate Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid and Seasons for Growth Grief & Loss Healing program. I have run both these programs and training in our communities of Wilcannia and Menindee with 100% attendance for both 2-day workshops. I have also attended our Family & Carer Mental Health Program gathering in Bourke and presented to CentaCare staff the organisations Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). As part of the working group I lead reflection sessions on what does reconciliation look like for individuals in the organisation, held workshops to look at the key areas within our RAP statement. Which I have found the whole process to be exciting and rewarding, there are so many people around me that are truly committed to real reconciliation and a path to self-determination for Indigenous people.
Finally, my granddaughter is nearly 2 and hasn’t that gone fast. It is so amazing, and I am so privileged to have the joys of watching her grow and to be able to share all that enjoyment with my partner. The year has been a tough one and as I said we are ready to go into 2018 with vigour and a renewed sense of learning and living. Thanks again to Rotary for your continued support and the work all Rotarians do for our families, friends and communities right across this great nation.