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University partnership supports a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Academy for Lismore


Jessica Nelson
13 July 2021
University partnership supports a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Academy
(L-R) Southern Cross University Assoc. Prof. Jacqui Yoxall, Dean of Faculty of Health Prof. Julie Jomeen, IAHA CEO Donna Murray, Dean of Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples Dr Stuart Barlo

In a first for NSW, Indigenous high school students from the Northern Rivers region will have the opportunity to complete a school-based traineeship to attain a Cert III in Allied Health Assistance, delivered at Southern Cross University.

The National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Academy will be led by the Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), and established on Bundjalung Country at Southern Cross University Lismore campus, where students in Year 11 and 12 will study the nationally-recognised qualification.

IAHA is a national, member-based health organisation supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health students and graduates, value adding to existing professional development, educational and cultural support structures. IAHA supports the broader allied health workforce and organisations with expertise in improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Southern Cross University Chair of Allied Health and Midwifery, Associate Professor Jacqui Yoxall, said the University is extremely proud to be partners in such an innovative program, building the Indigenous Health Workforce through supporting students who want to pursue a career in health.

She explained Southern Cross is partnering directly with IAHA to facilitate a culturally safe learning environment and pathway, which is delivered by TAFE NSW at Southern Cross University’s Lismore Campus. NSW Health (Northern NSW Local Health District) and local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services are the other key collaborators in the Academy.

“Southern Cross University’s Faculty of Health is thrilled to be able to give the National Academy a permanent home, where students can feel comfortable in a University environment with access to our Lismore campus library and facilities. The students will have opportunities to participate in additional educational activities and mentoring opportunities that our tertiary students are engaged in, and will also have support through Southern Cross University’s Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples,” Professor Yoxall said.

“At the start of the 2022 school year, the IAHA National Academy will have an intake of 25 Year 11 students who will come on to campus a couple of days a week with a dedicated space for their learning.

“Then in 2023 the next cohort will begin and we’ll have around 50 students across Year 11 and 12, from across Northern Rivers including Ballina, Lismore, and Casino.”

Through studying the Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance, the school-based trainees will be instantly employable after graduation in a range of emerging assistance roles, such as in hospitals, medical or dental practices, schools or community health centres, where assistants undertake further training and work under the supervision of allied health professionals.

The qualification is also a pathway into a range of health degrees at Southern Cross University, for students who want to pursue careers across disciplines such as Occupational Therapy, Speech Pathology, Biomedical Science, Nursing, Osteopathy, Exercise Science, Psychology, Social Work and Community Welfare. Midwifery is also available, with an additional interview process.

“Southern Cross University is committed to supporting growth of Indigenous representation in the workforce across all health disciplines. We were very pleased to sign our Memorandum of Understanding with IAHA last month, following more than a year of planning for the National Academy. Students in the National Academy will gain workforce experience with local health service providers, including at Southern Cross University’s own Health Clinic at Lismore campus alongside University students undertaking their professional training,” Professor Yoxall said.

“This is a brilliant opportunity, with Southern Cross the first University in NSW to facilitate an IAHA National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Academy. Others are currently located in Darwin and Brisbane.”

Local Health District Associate Director Aboriginal Health Kirsty Glanville said the Academy in the Northern Rivers is unique to others around the country, being the first to have direct engagement with the Aboriginal Community Controlled sector.

“This partnership highlights the very important role Aboriginal Medical Services provide in our communities in improving the health outcomes for Aboriginal communities and empowering people to take an active role in their health journey,” Ms Glanville said.

Donna Murray IAHA Chief Executive Officer said: “The IAHA National Academy provides our young people with the opportunity to take control of their futures – to believe in themselves – and to understand that they have a crucial role to play in improving the health of their people and communities”.

Current Year 12 students who have missed the cut-off for this senior school opportunity can still apply for a range of degrees at Southern Cross. If students do not receive the ATAR (or Star Early Offer) required to study their desired degree, other pathways to study at Southern Cross University include the free six-week Transition to Uni course which starts in January 2022, and other diplomas and short courses, including in allied health. Successful completion of Transition to Uni guarantees entry into any Southern Cross University course (excluding Midwifery which requires an additional interview).


Media contact: Jessica Nelson, media office at Southern Cross University, 0417 288 794 or [email protected]