Tiarnee Schafer
Tiarnee Schafer

Tiarnee Schafer

Indigenous Health Scholarship

University of Sydney, NSW

Psychology Masters
Scholarship Awarded 2022

Sponsored by:
Rotary Club of Orange

Monash University, VIC

Psychology Hons
Scholarship Awarded 2021

Sponsored by:
Lee Tyrrell

Indigenous Health Scholarship Program

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

Growing up and living in rural and remote regions, I have seen first-hand the impact health outcomes have on our community and why it’s vital to have local Aboriginal health professionals in these critical roles. My main motivation to become a health professional is to go back to the rural and remote communities I grew up in to provide the appropriate care authentically to Aboriginal peoples. I will play a crucial role in community health settings as I have a personal connection with the community. I have already built trust and rapport with the community and elders. I am looking forward to becoming a qualified psychologist so I can take services back to rural and remote communities in the Gulf of Carpentaria where there is a high population of Aboriginal people. I believe I can contribute to better health outcomes by engaging the community more and providing services that they do not currently receive. I can help make a difference as I am one of them and understand what concerns the community has and talk to them in a way where shame doesn’t get in the way of them sharing what’s going on for them in a comfortable manner. I want to be the first Kalkadoon Psychologist to yarn with my mob, and I believe this scholarship will help me achieve this goal.

Overall, I want to use a holistic Social and Emotional Well-being approach that takes into consideration all factors, including past policies that will help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities live a healthy and happy life instead of using a westernised approach on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. I hope to go into rural and remote communities and help all our mob heal and come together on this journey together. I want to share positive stories of hope and healing and proven strategies that will help our people overcome, rid the shame and stigma of yarning about mental health. I want to help our jarjums and start prevention early on so that they know what to do when feelings start to change and emotions start to get heavy and feel confident that they can get through anything by me providing them strategies to help.

Overall, a primary strength of mine is that I am passionate about helping people, so I am motivated to communicate with someone to help them be the best possible person they can be.

Current Progressive Report

I firstly would like to thank the Australian Rotary Health for their generosity in providing me with this scholarship. This year I started studying for the Master of Clinical Psychology, which has been my most significant year of my entire degree. With your support, I have been able to focus solely on this as a priority.

The last six months have been a big one for me as I started the Master’s program at the University of Sydney and moving to face to face classes after doing my honours year online with Monash University. The first semester of the program involved learning more about the aspects of clinical psychology, understanding more about mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, and understanding in greater detail the therapies we would be implementing and working through with clients. After semester one finished, I was lucky enough to go home back to my hometown Mount Isa and see my family. It was a much-needed break away from the city to be back on country.

I then started placement and started to implement all the learning. It was a big time for me as I had been studying psychology for four years, and this was the first time I would use these skills as a provisional psychologist. The first part of my placement was at the University of Psychology Clinic, where we provide therapy at a reduced cost, given we are in training and heavily supervised. I am currently in the clinic two days per week. On Mondays, I work with children and parents, and on Thursdays, I work with adults. I have also completed the psychometric testing part of my training as a provisional psychologist. This meant I learnt how to complete specific testing (e.g. ADHD and Giftedness and learning disorders assessments).

I have also started my thesis project as a part of the program. I am undertaking a systematic review on the Social and Emotional Well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. My thesis project will look to further explore the domains of SEWB (culture, kinship, community, physical, spiritual etc.). After completing the systematic review, I am considering continuing and studying something further in this space and potentially looking at completing my PhD.

After I complete my first placement, I will be doing an external placement at the Gambling Clinic and then with the Aboriginal Child and Adolescents Mental Health service Wiyiliin Ta in Newcastle. I aim to finish my first placement in December 2022. Then I look forward to returning home to Mount Isa, spending the holidays with my family, and relaxing before I start external placement in January.

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