Upskilling leads to new opportunities to help community

Jarryd Stanley
Griffith University student Jarryd Stanley.

Driven to do ‘more meaningful’ work, Wurundjeri Koori man Jarryd Stanley decided to upskill with a Master of Mental Health Practice from Griffith University and even before completing the course, has landed a new role helping members of his community.

The social worker and now, mental health case manager — a role Jarryd credits his masters for — studies online part-time while fulfilling his new role with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-controlled Kalwun Development Corp.

Kalwun delivers culturally appropriate health and support services for First Nations people on the Gold Coast. As part of Kalwun’s Aboriginal Medical Centre’s social health team, Jarryd carries out mental health and drug and alcohol rehabilitation outreach.

Having worked in social work and as a child protection officer for a few years, Jarryd knew he wanted to be able to support people on their road to recovery.

“Engaging with young people in the child protection system, many of whom had post-traumatic stress disorder, made me want to know more about mental health,” Jarryd said.

“I felt like I wasn’t doing enough meaningful work in child protection as I was only ever working with crisis. I was doing a lot of intervention with families and young people advising them to improve their mental health, but I wanted to do more to improve and gain better understanding of the complexities of mental health and how I can help.

“Now my career is even more rewarding. I get a lot of validation being able to support families to not enter the child protection system in the first place and decolonising healthcare by empowering community to have the confidence to engage with the system.”

After starting the Master of Mental Health Practice at Griffith, Jarryd was recruited for the position at Kalwun.

“I believe If I didn’t start my masters, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”

Health was a key focus in the Federal Government’s Job-Ready Graduates Package released late last year, with IT, engineering and education graduates also identified as national priorities, to meet demand in these forecast employment growth areas.

Record numbers of Australians have been enrolling in university study and particularly in these in-demand areas.

Jarryd says he has had a good experience studying health online with Griffith.

“I felt really supported by the staff in the School of Health Sciences and Social Work and GUMURRII,” Jarryd said.

GUMURRII is a dedicated support unit for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at Griffith University.

“During COVID, they’d ring me up every couple of weeks to ask how I was going. They were always there,” he said.

Jarryd expects to complete his studies later this year.