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New program to guide First Nations students into health, education and arts

A new CDU introductory program is set to help guide First Nations people into studying health, education and arts.
A new CDU introductory program is set to help guide First Nations people into studying health, education and arts.

The vital knowledge of First Nations people will be harnessed in a new program to support students into tertiary studies in health, education, and arts.

In January 2023, Charles Darwin University (CDU) will launch the First Nations Introduction to University for Health, Education, and Arts program, giving a taste of university for students interested in a career in health, education or arts.

Split into two interlinked units, the program will give foundational academic skills and knowledge in the students proposed future study area.

The program was co-designed with First Nation and non-First Nation educators and professionals and will include guest speakers from local organisations.

Co-developer and Gudanji and Wakaja woman Dr Debra Dank said the inclusive program aimed to empower students and give them confidence to use and expand their knowledge.

“This program gives students the opportunity to understand the importance of the knowledge they bring,” Dr Dank said.

“It’s about building the sense of resilience of First Nations knowledge and the ongoing validity and broadening of that knowledge framework, so we can embed some Western knowledge ways and students can see how they fit into the university space.”

The program, delivered at CDU’s Casuarina campus in Darwin, will connect students with a First Nation’s student mentor and an academic tutor who will provide both cultural and academic support.

“This will be a bit different. There will be a very strong commitment to utilising Aboriginal knowledge within this space,” she said.

Students who complete the program will be given assistance in choosing university pathway options at the end, such as qualifications at certificate, diploma or degree level in health, education or arts. 

“We’re hoping when students come along, they’ll get really excited about how they can build their place within the tertiary institution with new knowledge and skills about how they can access university places," Dr Dank said. 

“The more First Nations people we have actively engaged in the dissemination of education, arts and health, the better a place we’re all in.”

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory Chief Executive Dr John Paterson said there were critical shortages of First Nations personnel in both areas, in particular health.

“This is a great opportunity to grow our own workforce in the Northern Territory,” Dr Paterson said.

“There are plenty of opportunities for First Nations students and people who want to study and undertake tertiary studies and strengthen their capacity and upgrade their skills to take on very important roles.

“If you pursue education you can teach and look after your own and if you pursue health, you’re looking after the health and wellbeing of your family and other countrymen.”

First Nations people from across Australia are eligible to apply. There is no fee for the program and those living outside of the Greater Darwin area will be given financial support for travel and accommodation.

The program will run for four weeks from January 16 to February 10, 2023, from 9am to 4pm.

Learn more about the First Nations Health, Education and Arts University Introduction Program here. Applications close on December 1, 2022. 

This program complements CDU’s suite of First Nations enabling courses, including the Pre-Law program, the Pre-Business program and the Pre-Accounting program.

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