Indigenous Health Scholarship 2019

Flinders University, SA
Bachelor of Midwifery
Scholarship Awarded 2019
Sponsored by:

Rotary Club of Coromandel Valley

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

My passion to become a midwife came from the early age of 13. I was fascinated in all things pregnancy and birth, and growing up as a Nurrunga woman in a big Indigenous family, it was safe to say that there was always at least one or two pregnant woman in our family. This was always something of excitement for me and luckily as we were such a close-knit family I was able to have the opportunity to support and walk alongside the pregnant women in my family. From start to finish I was absolutely mesmerised with pregnancy and that’s when I decided that I wanted to be a midwife. I was completely in love with the human body and how resilient it can be during pregnancy.  Not only was I interested in the clinical side of being a midwife, my Aboriginal culture allowed me to be open to the spiritual and holistic side of birthing for an Aboriginal mother and family, it was incredible to see how strong women can really be and how unique each woman’s pregnancy and birth can be.

I know that a midwifes job will be full of the glorious and amazing moments like my first experience, but I have to be realistic that sometimes it is not always this perfect, and sometimes instead of the joy and love parents feel, they may feel grief and loss in such a sensitive time in their life.  Pregnancy is such a life altering experience and it’s important for midwives to know that there aren’t always good days, and although it is easy to support and respond in those happy moments, we also need to know how to respond to the unfortunate moments as well. That is why midwifery is more than just a job for me; it is a passion, a passion that I know even in the bad times that I will do my best for these women, to support them throughout their journey of pregnancy whatever that journey is.

After high school, I decided to attend Tafe, but soon realised that I came to Tafe because I did not think I was smart enough for University. In this moment I challenged myself to study the foundations program at UniSA. Once starting the foundations course at UniSA I realised that UniSA was not the
right University for me and decided that I would find another avenue to gain entry to my desired course at a different University when the time was right. Being in a very small country town we only had one University option so I challenged myself that when I were to go back to Adelaide that I would challenge myself to pursue entry to Flinders University. Whilst I put University on hold I got married and had a baby which made me realise the importance of living my life in the moment and raising my daughter gave me the confidence that I would come back to study when the time was right.

Now after several years of working in the health field specifically in Mental Health and Support roles within Aboriginal communities, I feel that I am now in a position to resume studying, I have a great support system, my daughter is older and I have a fantastic work/life balance where I now feel I can handle the challenges that University will give me. I want to become someone my daughter can be proud of, someone who can inspire other Aboriginal community members that you can do anything you put your mind to if you work hard and push yourself, my journey within University is not finished yet and I will not give up until I reach all my goals.

I want to study midwifery because I want to do work that is practical, hands-on, and meaningful to myself, my community and my clients. I want to work with all women and families to be able to assist women in the most profound moments of transition and change in their life and help them develop the confidence, strength and empowerment to make choices about their body and their health.

Although my passion drives me to provide support to all women, I believe that I would make most impact when working with indigenous women and families, given Aboriginal women and families have poorer health outcomes within pregnancy compared to non-indigenous women. I think it is important for Indigenous midwives to work primarily with Indigenous women and families. It is our Aboriginality that allows us to create a culturally safe environment which encourages engagement, trusting relationships and help positively affect health outcomes for Aboriginal women and families.

I know midwifery is competitive study to get into, but no one has more drive, dedication and focus than me. Midwives play key instrumental roles within our health system and I believe it is my life’s mission to help support women on this journey and to help bridge the gap in health care for the Aboriginal Community.
Studying is something that is so important to me, it is a privilege and one I do not take lightly, there was once a time where my Elders and Ancestors were denied the right to pursue further education and that my people were considered not smart or good enough for Higher Education. Some could say that because of where I have come from and my life experiences that I too am not good enough for higher education, I believe that much like my Ancestors I can overcome my struggles in life, that as long as I am strong in culture and in self that I can do anything I set my mind to. I have a lot to learn at University but I also feel that I have a lot to teach, about culture, about history and about how to overcome. I believe that my Aboriginality is something I can use as a tool to teach and
inspire those around me.

Current Progressive Report

I’m very proud to share that my most recent semester at University has been my strongest to date. I exceeded my high standard from semester one (two H1 marks; H1 being 80% or above). This semester I achieved a H1 grade for all four of my subjects. Furthermore, I earned 89% for my Indigenous Peoples unit, which is my highest mark ever achieved at university. My scores for the remaining three subjects ranged between 83% – 84%.

As detailed in my previous letter, I also successfully completed a four-month field placement at Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative in Shepparton from May to September 2016. While I enjoyed living in Shepparton, it was a pleasure to return to Melbourne for semester two. I returned to Melbourne with a new confidence in my abilities as a social worker.

This new confidence led to me apply for a part-time role as case manager at the youth organisation, Whitelion. In my role as a “Tiddas Coordinator” I work with young Aboriginal girls in Melbourne to provide support and mentoring to enable these girls to work through crises, build links to drug and alcohol services and maximise positive outcomes from the Criminal Justice System. It is because of the support provided by Rotary that I have been able to limit my work commitments to one day a week, and achieve academically.

The most exciting development of 2016 was being accepted into a cultural exchange with the universities of Northern Arizona and Arizona State University in the USA. This was a dream come true for me. Over the holiday break, I travelled with fellow Aboriginal students and university employees to the States and visited many Indigenous communities – sharing stories, learning traditions and making life-long friends.