Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students experienced a taste of university life and learned about possible allied health careers at Griffith University’s First Peoples Health (FPH) Aspiration to Health Programs Camp.

In all, 19 students from grades 10-12 attended the three-day immersive camp, hosted by FPH in partnership with The Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH).

FPH Engagement Lead Chris Levinge said the camp showed students how people from all backgrounds could succeed at university and specifically, in the health sector.

A student gives chest compressions to a mannequin.

“We want to encourage the students to study a health program, as the evidence is already there that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people delivering health services, get better health outcomes for First Peoples,” Mr Levinge said.

“The camp is a really good way to bring the kids in so they can feel comfortable in a university setting and see for themselves that anyone can study here.

“You just need to work hard and find what you are passionate about learning in the health space.”

IUIH academy manager Tracy Hill said the students were already completing a school-based traineeship for a Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance.

“A lot of our young kids who are coming through (the school-based apprenticeship) program face significant barriers,” Ms Hill said.

“The program is set up to help them overcome their social determinants of health that they are facing, and one of them is about going to university or further education.

Others test their strength through exercise science.

“The partnership for this camp is about exposing them to university life and also the different disciplines in health and the different pathways they can take whether they finish a Cert three, certificate in health or after they finish high school.”

In a jam-packed schedule, students experienced various health-related programs like nutrition and dietetics, physiotherapy, exercise science and nursing.

“The group received hands-on experience in the nurse clinic and using mannequins they performed CPR and learned how to safely handle patients, with a demonstration of how to relocate a patient from a bed to a chair,” Mr Levinge said.

They also had hands on experience with oral health and dentistry by moulding their own thumbs, and learned how plants are sometimes used for medicine in pharmacy and pharmacology.

The group also met with GUMURRII Student Success Unit to learn about support networks and services specifically available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at Griffith.

Year 10 student Keiriana Dargin-Clark from Dakabin State High School said she had always wanted to go to university and the camp had given her a greater understanding of what to expect.

Students explored the importance of cultural connections.

“Coming onto the campus at Griffith gave me a bit more insight into what I can get myself into in the future… whether that be physiotherapy or (to become a) dietitian,” Keiriana said.

She said the support offered by GUMURRII helped Griffith “stand out” from other universities.

Year 12 Ormeau Woods State High School student Taliyah Hawkins said the camp had shown her there were plenty of future options to choose from when it came to her career.

“It’s opening up… new pathways into the career I want to choose,” Taliyah said.

She found the cultural activities and just being in camp also helped her forge new connections with other students and elders.

“We have become a good community,” she said after her time at the camp.

“We were playing cards and had a bit of banter with some of the elders, it was a really good time.”

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