Aboriginal high school training program helps western Sydney close the gap

WSLHD Allied Health director Jacqueline Dominish welcomes local Aboriginal high school students to the start of their traineeship.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students from western Sydney are launching their health careers thanks to a new training and career partnership.

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) has teamed up with Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) Group Training to provide a school-based traineeship program.

The first intake of 10 students signed up this year to undertake a Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance while completing their year 11 & 12 studies, gaining relevant employability skills and workforce experience with both IAHA and WSLHD.

Among them were Mount Druitt twin Tyson and Jack Winters – nephews of WSLHD senior Aboriginal health worker Nicole Winters.

Twins Tyson and Jack Winters were excited to start the program together.

I’ve really been interested in getting a career in health, so this is a good chance to have a go and get the real work experience.”

Tyson Winters

“I’m pretty excited for the patient interactions, to meet new people from all walks of life. And it’ll be good to interact with the colleagues in health and ask questions about what it’s really like.

“I’m thinking of being a physio because I’ve had a lot of injuries in the past, so I just really want to help people with their injuries.”

WSLHD Allied Health director Jacqueline Dominish congratulated the students as they began their traineeship.

“We are very excited about these enthusiastic young people coming to work with allied health in our District,” Jacqueline said.

“We look forward to supporting them to achieve their future career goals and hope they stay with us over the longer term. They will be a very valuable addition to our workforce and the quality of care we provide to patients, and help improve the cultural safety of our clinical services.”

The students had the chance to hear from Aboriginal elders Uncle Wes Marne and Uncle Greg Simms.

March 17 is National Close the Gap Day 2022, acknowledging the work needed to close the health and education gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.

Research shows Aboriginal consumers have better outcomes when an Aboriginal health clinician is involved in their care – which is why WSLHD created a NSW-first position last year dedicated to recruiting more Aboriginal health practitioners.

This latest partnership will strengthen local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce development strategies, including through providing paid employment opportunities for school-based trainees, mentoring, leadership development and career planning.

For more information about IAHA’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Academy and IAHA’s Group Training Organisation please visit www.iaha.com.au.