Charles Sturt University builds Indigenous student numbers in paramedicine

Uni life: Charles Sturt University Port Macquarie paramedic student Syan Garstang encourages people to seize opportunities.

Uni life: Charles Sturt University Port Macquarie paramedic student Syan Garstang encourages people to seize opportunities.

A PATHWAY program was life changing for Charles Sturt University Port Macquarie paramedic student Syan Garstang.

Miss Garstang completed CSU’s Indigenous Access Program as a stepping stone to university.

The Bachelor of Clinical Practice (Paramedic) student and young Barkindji woman seized opportunities and encourages others to follow suit.

“If I didn’t take the opportunity to go to the Indigenous Access Program, I wouldn’t be here,” she said about CSU Port Macquarie.

Providing greater opportunity for Indigenous people to train as paramedics is one way CSU is helping to close the health-care gap.

CSU paramedicine discipline leader in the School of Biomedical Sciences Phillip Ebbs said: “We need to maintain a paramedic workforce that is there for all members of the community and you can only do that by ensuring that our students are drawn from all parts of the community.

“Some of the most impressive future paramedics that I have ever met have been Indigenous Australians from more remote communities.

“Sometimes, high school leavers in remote communities have been unable to attain the required marks, simply because they were raised in a remote area with limited resources, or because of other factors occurring at the time.”

March 16 marks National Close the Gap Day.

The day aims to bring people together, share information and take meaningful action in support of achieving Indigenous health equality by 2030.

CSU is building the representation of Indigenous students in the paramedicine program through pathway programs and ongoing support.

More than six per cent of Bachelor of Clinical Practice (Paramedic) students at CSU Port Macquarie are Indigenous.

That was in 2016.

Miss Garstang, who moved from Ourimbah to Port Macquarie, said she was really enjoying university.

“I had the option between Port Macquarie or Bathurst,” she said.

“I like Port Macquarie because of the ocean.

“It doesn’t seem like a big move, even though it is, because it reminds me of home.”

Miss Garstang said as a future paramedic, she likes the idea that she can help people and each working day will be unique.

“I think my Indigenous background gives me insight into cultural beliefs and the ways that Indigenous families operate, which will help me in my job to make a difference in the community,” she said.

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