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18 February 2015

2015 Regional Aboriginal Student Pathways posterWith the release of the latest Closing the Gap report, detailing only limited progress in areas related to health and life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, a conference aimed at encouraging regional Aboriginal students to pursue careers in health, at the University of South Australia’s Whyalla campus this week couldn’t be more timely.

 More than 120 students in their final years from secondary schools across regional SA will attend the Gidja Wongan Regional Aboriginal Student Pathways Conference (February 19-20), where they will hear from a range of Aboriginal role models and leaders from diverse health career backgrounds.

Keynote speakers will include Tyrone Toomey, an Aboriginal psychologist who provides counselling services and support for students and health professionals in rural and remote areas, and Ruth Wallace, an Aboriginal athlete who recently completed the New York marathon and is working to improve employment prospects for Aboriginal youth.

Wallace believes the conference will show many the wide opportunities that are available to young Aboriginal students as they consider their future plans.

“It is all about setting your goals and the steps to get there and then with the support from people at these conferences and support from programs and family, they will reach their goals,” Wallace says.

“When you do something different, uncomfortable, new or exciting you are living outside your comfort zone and you are growing and becoming confident, learning and developing in all different ways.”

Lead conference organiser and research associate with UniSA’s Department of Rural Health, Kate Warren believes the event will build upon the success of the first Regional Aboriginal Student Pathways conference, which took place in Whyalla last year.

 “The conference is designed to inspire those students who are nearing the end of their school years to consider pursuing careers in the field of health,” Warren says.

 “The latest Closing the Gap report is just one indicator of the importance and value of trying to promote health career pathways to students.

 “The importance of encouraging school retention and enabling more Aboriginal students to complete their schooling and build career pathways is also what we are hoping the conference will help to address.   

 “There will be a range of hands-on activities and with speakers of the calibre of Ruth Wallace and Tyrone Toomey, it should be engaging and rewarding for those who attend.

 “We are expecting students from schools as far away as Amata in the very north of SA, Port Lincoln, Cummins, Port Augusta and Whyalla.”

Contact for interview:

Kate Warren office (08) 8647 6001 email kate.warren@unisa.edu.au

Media Contact

Will Venn office (08) 8302 0096 mobile 0401 366 054 email will.venn@unisa.edu.au

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