‘Closing health, education and employment gaps for our population’: WSLHD welcomes School-Based Aboriginal Trainees

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Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) recently extended a warm welcome to a new cohort of School-Based Aboriginal Trainees (SBATs), providing a unique opportunity for these students to kickstart their careers in health through an engaging and hands-on program.

This year, WSLHD has taken on a group of six Year 11 students from across western Sydney to facilitate the practical component of their School-Based Aboriginal Traineeships. 

“The ultimate aim is to contribute to closing health, education and employment gaps for our Aboriginal population by diversifying staff to create a more culturally safe and accessible health service,” WSLHD Aboriginal Traineeship Coordinator, Louise Maclean said.

“This involves supporting local high school students to begin their health career journey through TAFE study and concurrent work opportunities that are relevant and practical.”

Over the next two years, they will host 100 days of on-the-job work experience days across allied health disciplines, enabling the SBAT’s to engage in on-the-job learning, network with health professionals, familiarise with healthcare settings and structures, increase health literacy, and guide decision making around future career pathways.

Participants gathered in Westmead Hospital’s The Gathering Place and despite some drizzling rain, attendees could feel the weight and emotion in the special Acknowledgment of Country performed by Aunty Yvonne To’a.

The event brought together a diverse array of attendees, including the six eager trainees, distinguished WSLHD Allied Health staff, executive directors, managers, and Aboriginal Elders, including Aunty Marie Wilson.

This is such a great opportunity. Our previous generations are here to welcome and support our trainees, and to share their knowledge and experience.

Louise Maclean, Aboriginal Traineeship Coordinator

The ceremony also provided an opportunity to express gratitude towards the mentors and supporters at the district who will play a key role in the students’ learning journey .

“We can’t do this without the people that are here to support our clinicians,” Monica Hughes, WSLHD Manager of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Education said.

Also collaborating in the program are TAFE NSW, Department of Education, Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), and NSW Training Services – Verto Training Group.

The School-Based Aboriginal Traineeship program brings to live a vision of inclusivity, equity, and empowerment within the healthcare landscape.

Through providing avenues for professional development and advancement, the program not only works towards the goal of closing the gap, but also fosters a more diverse and inclusive healthcare workforce.