Issue 10
Monday, 02 December 2019
Charles Darwin University
E-news
Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives Scholar of the Year Karita McCarthy
Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives Scholar of the Year Karita McCarthy

Karita wins nursing excellence award

By Kaye Hall

Studying Nursing at CDU has opened the door to a new world for Karita McCarthy, a CDU Indigenous ambassador who has just won another excellence award.

This time it was the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) Scholar of the Year award.

The accolade demonstrates the extraordinary impact that university has had on Karita’s life. 

Once jailed for aggravated assault, she now studies full time and has a cadetship at the Department of Health.

Although she grew up in Darwin, Karita is Waanyi on her grandmother’s side and Tagalaka on her grandfather’s side from the Croydon region in northern Queensland.

“It wasn’t until I was studying Indigenous Perspectives with Robyn Williams (Lecturer in Human Sciences) that I began to understand intergenerational trauma,” she said.

“With all the work the government is doing to try to close the gap I feel that we need Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with higher education to be able to work with our people, to enable us to close that gap.

“I realised that I needed a degree so that I could be part of the change.”

Three years later, Ms McCarthy has almost completed her Nursing degree. She is preparing to go to Vietnam for a placement in January, her first trip overseas, and hopes to finish the course in mid-March.

“This degree made me want to turn my life around and show that anybody can do it.

“I never realised how many doors nursing would open,” she said.

As a cadet with the Department of Health, Ms McCarthy is part of the casual pool with Top End Mental Health Services, working as a patient care assistant. She is also doing a placement in the Paediatrics Ward at Royal Darwin Hospital - and loving it.

“If you asked me in 2017, I would have said nursing was the hardest thing I’d ever done - and I’ve been through a lot,” she said.

“If you ask me now, I love everything about it and I think everyone should do it because it changes you.”

Ms McCarthy wants to let people know how much support CDU gives Indigenous students. 

She won the Mediserve Nursing Scholarship 2017-18, the Puggy Hunter Scholarship 2017-2019, NAIDOC Scholar of the Year Award 2018, and runner up for Cadet Trainee of the Year at the Northern Territory Government Excellence Awards 2018. This year she won the Placement Scholarship from CDU as well as the CATSINaM Scholar of the Year award.

“Indigenous students need to know what support is out there,” she said