Indigenous students gain healthcare qualifications

Healthcare: This group of Indigenous students has completed their healthcare qualifications through TAFE. Pic: Libby Foster

Healthcare: This group of Indigenous students has completed their healthcare qualifications through TAFE. Pic: Libby Foster

TAFE NSW Aboriginal Pathways students from across NSW and Queensland benefited from contemporary online learning during their recent studies in primary health care in Port Macquarie.

The students are studying the Certificate III or Certificate IV in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care and are developing valuable skills like assessing clients’ physical wellbeing, administering medications, providing nutritional guidance, and addressing social determinants of health.

According to Sharon Taylor, Key Account Manager for Aboriginal Pathways TAFE NSW, this is not only the first time Certificate III and IV Practice qualifications in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care have been held in Port Macquarie, but also the first time the qualifications have been delivered using the flexible technology of Google Classroom.

“Although they were all first time users, students and staff all spoke enthusiastically of this type of learning, highlighting as outstanding benefits the automatic saving function, online networking and collaborative features,” said Ms Taylor.

Both qualifications have a focus on culturally appropriate application, and workers in this industry are crucial to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Amarlee Kelly, one of the 38 students in the two classes, is an Aboriginal woman from Tweed Heads, in Bundjalung country on the north coast of NSW. For Ms Kelly, leaving family and country to study in Port Macquarie took her out of her comfort zone.

“I was very nervous and uncomfortable about leaving my husband,” said Ms Kelly.

“We have been married for 24 years, and we rarely do things without each other. [But] when Uncle Bill performed his amazing Welcome to Country, I was really able to get a feel for Birpai country, and after that I felt much more comfortable and was able to settle down and get to work.”

Ms Taylor added that with Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) accreditation, TAFENSW Aboriginal Pathways are able to offer the Certificate IV in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Practice qualification, which enables their graduates to become AHPRA- registered practitioners.

Stephen Taylor from Nowra is studying this Certificate IV course to upskill in his job as an Aboriginal Community Support Worker and Chronic Care Coordinator, which involves monitoring the health of his clients thus minimising hospital visits.

“Part of my job is to run clinics in the community, so having my Certificate IV qualification will allow me to check blood sugar, take blood samples and measure body mass index,” said Mr Taylor.

He believes these skills will increase his value to his community and to his employer.

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