Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Spring 18-11-2009

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame, Broome Campus

Publication Place



Attracting Indigenous students to enrol in programs focused on health care has been the ‘mission’ for School of Nursing (SON) staff on The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Broome Campus.

Their proactive and innovative approach to provide training in health care to students from a wide variety of backgrounds was recognised nationally by achieving a final place in the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council’s awards. The School was nominated for the National Accolades for Excellence in the rural and remote section – health.

Over the past five years, the School has substantially changed its approaches to learning and its support systems with the aim to encourage greater participation from groups of people significantly underrepresented in post compulsory school education, in particular, Indigenous students from throughout the Kimberley,

Assistant Dean and SoN lecturer Sally Clarke explains: “We undertook a range of interventions to encourage potential students to contemplate a career in the health sector.

“The Broome Campus has offered the Bachelor of Nursing Degree program since 2000. One of the factors which inhibited a number of Indigenous applicants was their limited level of education, many of them having left the secondary level system as soon as they were legally allowed.

“Our investigations revealed a lack of confidence to tackle further education among this group and the SON was determined to develop strategies to overcome this reluctance.

“Programs such as Certificates II & III in Health Support Services and Health Services Assistance were developed though partnerships with the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service Council and the local TAFE to provide students with maximum recognition of prior learning, and credit transfer for courses within the community services sector, Aboriginal Health Worker programs and the Health Industry Package.”

One successful initiative developed in 2007 was the introduction of a Diploma of Nursing for Enrolled Nurses which promotes a career pathway into the field of nursing.

Another success was the change to a mixed mode delivery model using a particular software package to help students in the remote parts of the Kimberley to access their education.

Mrs Clarke said, “The flexibility of delivering the course has been achieved with extensive encouragement from throughout the region with Diploma students being supported by hospitals and other services such as community clinical and long stay facilities offering clinical placement positions.”

The most recent development for the School is the Vocational Education and Training Schools Program being offered to Year 10, 11 and 12 students at Broome Senior High School and St Mary’s College, in conjunction with the Health Course of Studies program.

“The enthusiasm with which these programs were embraced by students demonstrated an interest in working in the health sector, and potential employers were equally enthusiastic to engage trained personnel,” said Mrs Clarke.

Media contact Lyn Quince (08) 91920602