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Aboriginal cadet program welcomes new nursing students

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Aboriginal cadet program welcomes new nursing students

​WESTERN Health’s current - and future - indigenous workforce is being boosted with its Aboriginal Nursing Cadetship program.

Now in its second year, the program offers up to 40 paid shifts a year for indigenous students in the second or third year of their nursing degrees.

This year’s cadets, Sharna Clarke, Rebecca Cradock and Zoeann Raymond, will work in wards at the Williamstown, Sunshine and Footscray hospitals.

Project manager Amanda Culpan said the cadetship program’s many aims centred around “closing the gap”, and was run by Western Health’s Aboriginal Health Unit.

“The cadets will create professional networks and increase their nursing skills, so when they finish their degrees they will have a better chance of getting a graduate position,” Ms Culpan said.

The cadets work as nursing assistants, with roles including helping patients to wash, dress, toilet, eat and move safely.

Shifts are designed to be flexible, working around university classes and placements.

Sharna Clarke, 21, said she had always been passionate about health and wellbeing generally, and was very concerned by the higher mortality and morbidity rates of the indigenous population.

“My family has been affected by those statistics as well, so I want to help better that,” said Ms Clarke, who is in her third year of nursing at Victoria University.
Rebecca Cradock, 39, said her nursing degree at Deakin University’s Institute of Koorie Education, as well as the Western Health cadetship, had given her another shot at her dream career.

The mum-of-three had put family first - and nursing on the back burner - when she fell pregnant with her first child.

“It’s taken me 17 years to get here, but I have always wanted to give back,” Ms Cradock said.

“What better way to do that than by helping the sick and the vulnerable as a nurse.”











New nursing cadets Rebecca Cradock and Sharna Clarke
at Williamstown Hospital