The first intake of students in the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health's scholarship program have graduated at a ceremony held at the Charles Perkins Centre leading up to NAIDOC Week 2017.
Eleven Aboriginal cadets from across NSW received a Certificate IV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care Practice, a registered qualification through the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency (AHPRA).
“This is the first time we’ve offered this unique program that enables students in rural areas to undertake intensive theory during block lessons and learn their practice skills on the job,” said Kylie Gwynne, Director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Sydney.
“Part of our strategy is to provide clinical training for local Aboriginal people, so they’re able to return home and be the health experts in their own communities. We’re so proud of all our students, and can’t wait to see what they decide to do next and all they accomplish.”
Another scholar, Folau (Paul) Talbot, has now qualified as a Dental Technician having obtained a Certificate IV in Oral Health Promotion following earlier completion of a Certificate III in Dental Assisting. He took part in the Dental Technology Scholarship Program, a collaboration between the Poche Centre, NSW Health, NSW Dental Council and the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District.
“I feel awesome,” Mr Talbot said of the achievement.
To have finally finished after two long years of really hard work – it has really paid off. I’m hoping to go on to train as a Dental Prosthetist and in the meantime I’ll work on Poche’s denture clinic.
The denture clinic forms part of the Poche Centre’s award-winning mobile oral health services. A van kitted out with dental laboratory facilities travels through regional NSW towns – including Mr Talbot’s home town of Boggabilla – fitting and supplying up to 12 sets of dentures in four days to people living in rural and remote Aboriginal communities.
“Paul is the first recipient of our cadetship and completed his course with great dedication and outstanding marks. We are tremendously proud to know and work alongside him and we know he will continue make a real difference in Aboriginal health,” Ms Gwynne said.
John Skinner, Director of the Centre for Oral Health Strategy NSW, also expressed his admiration for Paul’s achievements.
“Paul’s success is a success for us all because he is helping to change dental care in NSW,” he said.
“He's also been an encouragement to other Aboriginal young people to undertake further study. We’ve been proud to support Paul throughout his scholarship and we know he has a great career ahead of him.”
The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health is funded by philanthropists Greg Poche AO and Kay Van Norton Poche, who have donated more than $50 million to Aboriginal health over the past nine years.
More than 200 Aboriginal scholars have completed qualifications with the support of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health over the past two years, with 75 students graduating at Certificate IV or Diploma level.
In 2017, the Poche Centre will support 144 scholars in oral health, allied health, nursing, primary health care and research, with 54 percent at the Certificate IV or Diploma level.
Students supported by the Poche Centre have a current completion rate of 99.1 percent across all qualifications from skill set units of study that form part of a Certificate III to PhD.