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NMIT collaborates with top hospitals to create real opportunities for indigenous employment

21 Dec 2010

NMIT student, Alfie Bamblett (Yorta Yorta / Mutti Mutti), has a goal of developing a 'Big Brother' mentoring program for indigenous people and now he's one step closer after completing a NMIT qualification that gives him and his indigenous classmates a real chance of employment in the health sector.

“The students completed our ten-week Certificate III in Health Services Assistants course. It was a pilot Koorie group and what we got out of it was the fact that the students and teachers learned as a community,” explains NMIT's Certificate III in Health Services Assistance Course Coordinator, Lynne Pearson.

Aside from the determination and commitment of the students, the success of the Certificate III program owes much to the collaboration between NMIT's Department of Health and Community Studies, the Institute's Koorie Services Centre and the support of hospitals including Melbourne's St Vincent's and Alfred Hospitals.

Lynne and her team were greatly supported by staff from NMIT's Koorie Services Centre, particularly NMIT Koorie Liaison Officer, Steve Van Nus, Koorie Services Coordinator, Carol Harrison and Deb Walsh Executive Program Manager from ASK (Access Service for Koories). Steve was instrumental in supporting the students during their practical placements while Carol and Deb had close involvement with the group and delivered some course units including Palliative Care for Indigenous Patients and a Cultural Diversity Unit that focused on the history of indigenous Australians. “The support for the staff (from NMIT's Koorie Services Centre) was huge,” adds Lynne Pearson.

The NMIT course (held at the Institute's Collingwood campus) ensured that each of the eight students in the program was thoroughly prepared for their practical work placement with the majority of students being placed at either St Vincent's or the Alfred. Following completion of their placements, two students from the course are now working as part of the casual bank of Health Services Assistants (HSA's) at the Alfred while two other NMIT students have been offered positions on the St Vincent's casual bank for Support Services Assistants (SSA's). The other students from the course are also confident of picking up HSA work in the near future.

While many of the students see the qualification as a stepping stone to a career in nursing, Alfie Bamblett was attracted to the program as a means of building his skills and experience. He hopes to work as a health services assistant while undertaking further study in Community Services with a long-term goal of working to develop community services for indigenous people.

“It's the way the teaching staff adapted the course to us ... they've made it more culturally sensitive ... welcoming,” says Alfie.

While Alfie had already completed Year 12 as well as three years of work with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association, other students view the Certificate III program as a first step toward regular, paid employment.

“I felt happy because I haven't had a job before,” says nineteen-year-old Nakita Green (Gurnai / Kurnai) who completed her practical placement at St Vincent's Hospital where she gained experience and mentoring in key health services assistance duties including room cleaning, food service, dressing and moving patients.

While Nakita says she “just loved the whole experience of prac work” she did admit to being a little nervous but found great support in the St Vincent's staff. “I did a mortuary run ... it was a bit scary but I was with my (St Vincent's) buddy who was really good with it all.”

After finishing her work placement Nakita was interviewed by St Vincent's for an SSA position and has just recently been told that she has been accepted to work as part of the hospital's casual SSA roster. “Just achieving something is great. Yeh ... it's just a great start for me.”

For Alfie Bamblett the experience of completing the course and the practical placement at St Vincent's goes beyond the obvious career benefits. One of his strongest memories from his work placement was the look on the faces of some of the indigenous patients ... “(they) gave me a smile that told me they were happy that young aboriginal kids were working there ... it's deadly!”


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Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on six campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north plus a regional campus at Ararat, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.

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