Pathways program targets Aboriginal youth for health careers

The Centre of Excellence for Aboriginal Health in East Gippsland (CEAHEG) in Victoria has developed a community-led strategy for building and supporting an Aboriginal Health workforce through strategic engagement with Koorie school students when they are considering their career options.

CEAHEG received a grant of $4,000 from FRRR's Small Grants for Rural Communities program, funded by the R.E. Ross Trust, to run two camps aimed at bringing together the young Aboriginal people from the area with their Elders. The focus of the camps was to strengthen their culture through yarning, sharing stories, and talking with family about history and origins. Overarching the two-day camps was a focus on Indigenous involvement in the healthcare system, via the Looking@Health Career Pathways program. Aboriginal people who have achieved a career in health were invited to participate and tell their stories, and become champions for these young people, and encourage them to consider a career in health.

Looking@Health Career Pathways

Two camps were held in March and May last year at the Coonawarra Farm Resort. Sixteen children attended the first camp, with many of them returning with their friends for the second camp, which had 47 students in attendance.

Activities at both camps consisted of healthy heart education and health simulation activities conducted by Monash Regional Clinical School, Bairnsdale; CPR instruction and demonstrations; Ambulance Victoria simulation activities and ambulance familiarisation; Young Doctors session by Malpa Foundation; Yarning Circles with Elders; Tobacco Action presentation from Lakes Entrance Aboriginal Health Association; and cultural activities such as painting and boomerang throwing, combined with career counselling and career speed dating with health professionals.

Strong engagement with community

Representatives from Monash University, Bairnsdale Regional Health, GEGAC (Gippsland East and Gippsland Aboriginal Cooperative), VAEAI, Malpa Foundation, Ambulance Victoria (including 3 Aboriginal Community Ambulance Officers currently studying to be paramedics), LEAHA (Lakes Entrance Aboriginal Health Association), Latrobe City Aboriginal Employment Program all gave their time to deliver valuable health messages, and build the students’ knowledge about health careers.

CEAHEG has since engaged with the students who attended the camps and has followed up with them and their schools by way of mentoring, social media and planning further activities. A number of students have expressed interest in doing work experience in the health service industry, and CEAHEG is working to facilitate this.

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