Study scholarship helps June get tech-savvy
Long-time health worker June Councillor recently joined the growing number of Northern and Remote Country Health Service Pilbara Aboriginal employees to be awarded a ‘Make a Difference’ scholarship.
Currently an enrolled nurse at the Hedland Health Campus Dialysis Unit, June said she used the scholarship money to help buy her first computer.
“I’m currently studying an Associate Degree in Indigenous Community Management and Development through Curtin University.
“Previously, I’ve done all my studies and assignments by hand, which just isn’t practical. The scholarship has given me the chance to buy a new computer and really help with my studies,” June said.
June has spent more than 20 years working in aged care and community health.
The scholarships are provided by Northern and Remote Country Health Service Pilbara Indigenous Employment Program (IEP), which aims to help Aboriginal people pursue health-related employment opportunities within their local communities.
Northern and Remote Country Health Service Pilbara Regional Director Ron Wynn said the IEP had made a significant contribution to closing the gap to improve the overall health of Aboriginal people.
“This program responds to the aspirations of Aboriginal staff by providing practical assistance and encouraging further education in their chosen health field through the scholarship program,” he said.
The Make a Difference scholarship recipients receive grants designed to support study and professional development opportunities, with 41 staff across the region receiving scholarships to pursue a range of education opportunities.
The scholarships are funded under the $38.2 million Pilbara Health Initiative – a five-year partnership between the State Government’s Royalties for Region’s program and the Chamber of Minerals and Energy’s Pilbara Industry’s Community Council (PICC) Health Initiative members (BHP Billiton Iron Ore, Chevron Australia Pty Ltd, North West Shelf Joint Venture, Rio Tinto and Woodside Energy), which aims to boost health services in the region. BHP Billiton Iron Ore is the principal industry sponsor of the Indigenous Employment Program.
BHP Billiton Iron Ore’s Senior Manager Community and Indigenous Affairs Chris Cottier said the scholarships provided by the program address the increased demand for Pilbara health services and foster opportunities for Indigenous people to pursue a career in health.
“Having stronger Indigenous employment in health encourages healthy lifestyles and opportunities within the sector,” he said.
Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA (CME) Chief Executive Reg Howard-Smith said the IEP scholarships would help to build a professional Aboriginal health workforce in the Pilbara.
“A focus on increasing the number of Aboriginal staff across health in the Pilbara in turn brings great benefits to the whole region,” he said.