Kiribati to Australia via Griffith

Graduating Nursing Students from Kiribati, Tamwia Bootii and Koriri Enari

Graduating with a university degree is a great milestone for anyone. But it is evengreater for someone who does it after they have left their home for a foreigncountry, away from their communal support.

Graduating this December were 25 students from the Pacific nation of Kiribati.Amongst them were Bachelor of Nursing students Tamwia Bootii and KoririEnari.Kiribati is a three hour flight north from Fiji.

The country comprises 32 low-lyingatolls and one raised coral island. On average, the land is just two metres abovesea level. As a result, Kiribati is under major threat of rising sea levels due toclimate change.

Challenges for the people

Tamwia and Koriri know only too well the issues that their country is facing. Alongwith climate change, rapid population growth and youth unemployment are also achallenge for the country’s people.

But as two out of 82 successful applicants tothe Griffith Nursing program (out of a total 200 who applied), Tamwia and Koririhave been very grateful for the chance to come to Australia on full scholarshipsfunded by the Australian Government.

The program involves training I-Kiribati so they gain internationally-recognisedqualifications and become more competitive in the international labour market.

“Employment opportunities are pretty scarce where I come from,” says Tamwia.“But when I heard about the program I knew it would be a good opportunity tostart a career and also benefit my family back home. My mum and dad were notkeen at first as they knew how much they would miss me but they also knew thatit was an offer not to be refused. I am hoping that I may be able to eventually helpmy younger brother to get out here as well.”

“It was tough when I first arrived in Australia as I struggled with the language,”says Koriri, another high achieving i-Kiribati who turned down a scholarship to FijiNational University in order to attend Griffith. “Learning complex nursingtechnicalities in a foreign language was a challenge to me, but I got through. Ihave loved the hospital placements we have been given on the degree, and lovedmeeting patients from all different cultures and backgrounds. Now I am reallykeen to stay in the Logan area and look for work as a surgical nurse.”

Rural and remote opportunities

Meanwhile Tamwia says he is interested in looking for intensive care nursingpositions in either a rural or remote area.

“I want to experience first-hand, theconditions in a region such as Australia’s outback.“These 25 I-Kiribati youth arenow ready to graduate and enter the workforce — a remarkable journey andachievement from their arrival date in Brisbane when they experienced lifts,escalators, air conditioning and expressways for the very first time!”said RebeccaKeogh, Manager of the International Business Development Unit at Griffith.


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