Thanks to a generous donation from Lenity Australia, six nurses from Tonga will undertake further education at Sydney Nursing School in the Advanced Learning Masters program. The first two nurses commenced their scholarship this year.
The Lenity Scholarships awarded were awarded for the first time in February and are the continuation of a long history between Sydney Nursing School and the Kingdom of Tonga.
Last year, nine Sydney Nursing School students were selected under the Australian New Colombo Plan Scholarship Program to undertake part of their study in community health in Tonga.
A further 10 students have been selected for the program in 2018. The students are: Chelsea Hanlon, Alicia Croxford, Jessica Raward, Grace Gavin, Rachel Newton, Isobel D’cruz, Joanne Mendes, Jacklyn Favretti, Ashleigh Corbin and Emily Sutherland.
These students will be awarded their scholarships at Sydney Nursing School’s annual Scholarships and Prizes event on 1 May.
Ten years ago, the former Chief Nurse of Tonga Mrs Sela Paasi undertook postgraduate nursing study at Sydney Nursing School.
Mrs Paasi then worked collaboratively with the Ministry of Health and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to gain funding for the development of a world first Advanced Nursing Diploma program to specifically to address non-communicable diseases (NCDs) at a community level in Tonga.
Non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes are some of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in Tonga.
Sydney Nursing School provided academic leadership in the development and accreditation of the programme in collaboration with former Sydney Nursing School Dean, Professor Jill White.
In 2014, 20 nurses graduated from this programme and now work in community health centres throughout Tonga.
In 2012, the current Chief Nurse of Tonga, Dr Amelia Latu Afuhu’amango Tu’ipulotu graduated from Sydney Nursing School with a doctoral degree. She was the first nurse in Tonga to be awarded such a PhD.
With her background as a teacher in the Queen Salote School of Nursing (QSSN), Amelia’s thesis informed the development of national standards for nursing practice – the Siate Folau. These became the basis for safeguarding the quality and safety of nursing practice in Tonga.
Professor White and Ms Margaret Martin, a nursing leadership and workforce manager and Honorary Associate of Sydney Nursing School, have since returned to Tonga to assist with an upgrading of both Nursing and Midwifery curricula, working with staff of the QSSN and the Tonga National Qualifications Authority.
In 2016, Professor White and Professor Mary Chiarella worked with the Tongan Ministry of Health on a review of the Tongan Nurses Act 2001. The review focussed on a number of areas including a comprehensive redesign of the system for monitoring the quality and safety of health care in Tonga.
The relationship between Tonga and the Sydney Nursing School is continuously maintained through shared participation in the South Pacific Nursing Forum and through the South Pacific Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officers Alliance.