Health and Early Childhood Internship pilot gives students exposure to Indigenous Health

29 June 2009

A group of seven young women fromthe University of Sydney's Faculty of Health Sciences have put their hands up for a new type of internship program that will see them volunteer their services to work with Aboriginal communities across rural NSW.

The new Health and Early Childhood Internships project, developed by Indigenous Community Volunteers (ICV), will give a group of final year physiotherapy, speech pathology, occupational therapy and exercise and sport science/nutrition students the opportunity to spend up to two months in Aboriginal Medical Services and schools across NSW. The focus will be on giving students exposure to early childhood, community health, disability and rehabilitation in Indigenous communities.

The program is being launched this week with the first cultural training workshop in Sydney for participating students.

"We are very excited about the opportunities that this project will offer both students and Aboriginal communities. Distance, cost and cultural differences are real barriers to giving emerging young health professionals training opportunities with Aboriginal people," said Dan Billing, ICV's Internship Project Coordinator.

"We are making it easier for people to work in an Indigenous context by providing cultural training and other supports such as accommodation."

There is also a tangible service delivery dividend for communities. The seven young women will provide over 1300 hours of practical health and education services to Aboriginal people in communities including Walgett, Bourke, Brewarrina and Jervis Bay.

The University of Sydney is the first institution to get on board with the project. ICV will test the approach with this first group of students to see what real health benefits there are for Aboriginal people.

"We know that the health and early childhood professions are a key part of the solution to 'closing the gap'.

"ICV's goal is to help build a workforce that is much better prepared to tackle Aboriginal disadvantage," Mr Billing said.

ICV is an independent, non-profit human and community development organisation. The Australian Government has given ICV a grant to contribute to the costs of the pilot program.

Contact: Toni Hassan, Indigenous Community Volunteers

Phone: 0408 601 616