This week Griffith University hosted a School visit from Tagai State College, an independent Public School that is committed to providing education and training services to the Torres Strait Nation. The school group visited GUMURRII Student Support Units at both Nathan and Gold Coast campus, heard from current First Peoples students, and met GUMURRII staff. In addition to visiting the new physiotherapy classrooms at the Nathan campus, the students had the opportunity to fly simulation planes with the Aviation Faculty. These visits provide not only an opportunity for school groups to familiarise themselves with university support available, but also allows current students the opportunity to give back and engage with community.

Director of the First Peoples Health Unit Professor Roianne West spoke about the collaboration between Tagai State CollegeGUMURRII Student Support Unit, the First Peoples Health Unit and the School of Nursing and Midwifery. “Hosting School visits has benefits for the Group,” she said, “but importantly for the students and communities from which they come. The visits expose the students to the possibilities of university as an option and helps to demystify what University is about.”

Nathan McGuire the Guidance Officer for the Tagai State College said that “the students particularly enjoyed the visit to the Nursing and Midwifery School.  Although there were only 3 students in our group of 10 considering nursing as a career, all students were inspired and thoroughly enjoyed the interactive activities”.

Cassie Nest is a Griffith Bachelor of Midwifery Alumni, the first Aboriginal graduate from the program and the first Aboriginal Midwifery Academic to work in the Program. Leading the Midwifery workshop and talking to the students about her journey into university Cassie said, “My Nan was a traditional birth attendant and I grew up listening to her stories about the different types of birth. I didn’t know that Midwifery was a degree and so I started and left two other degrees. The first year my local universities offered Midwifery I started my degree elsewhere and ended up transferring to Griffith. I love that Griffith teaches that bathing is a normal part of life and I really enjoy the way they combine learning and practical components.” Speaking about her experiences while studying Cassie said, “I probably wouldn’t have gotten through my degree without financial assistance and was thankfully awarded a Cadetship where I worked with NSW Health and they provided a scholarship for my studies. I had a tutor from the GUMURRII Student Support Unit who helped me overcome my difficulties with some online classes and now I do work that is so rewarding!”

Professor Jenny Gamble, Head of Midwifery, said “opportunities like this are important to Midwifery at Griffith’s commitment to increasing First Peoples Midwives”.

Liz Elder, Lecturer and Credentialed Emergency Nurse (CEN), walked the students through the universities state-of-the-art teaching facilities. With a wealth of experience across emergency nursing and first class learning and teaching methodologies Liz said, “School experiences like this are great! They help to bring together those who are doing and those who want to do, bridging gaps between the two. These experiences help our future students see that their dreams are achievable. ”

Griffith Health is committed to closing the gap in health outcomes between Australia’s First Peoples and other Australians of which a First Peoples health workforce is paramount. The Griffith Health First Peoples Health Plan identifies First Peoples health schools and pathways engagement as a priority and necessary to increasing the number of First Peoples students from rural and remote communities and increasing First Peoples health workforce. Currently Griffith has 62 First Peoples enrolled in the Bachelor of Nursing, 8 enrolled in Post Graduate Nursing programs, 9 First Peoples students enrolled in the Bachelor of Midwifery, 5 First Peoples students undertaking the Masters of Maternity Care and 5 Non-First Peoples students currently working on Thursday Islander undertaking the Masters of Maternity Care.