24 November 2016

​Applications for the NSW Aboriginal Nursing and Midwifery Cadetships are now open for Aboriginal people who aspire to become nurses and midwives and are ready to launch their careers in health.

The Aboriginal Nursing and Midwifery Cadetship Program, conducted by NSW Health, provides financial assistance, mentoring and clinical support to students undertaking nursing and midwifery courses at an undergraduate level.

Program graduate and now Senior Advisor in NSW Health’s Nursing and Midwifery Office, Leona McGrath, first dreamt of becoming a midwife at age 16 when she witnessed the birth of her niece.

But it wasn’t until years later that she pursued her dream, prompted by news of the cadetship program and a course offered at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

“It was like the stars had aligned – I heard about the Bachelor of Midwifery and the cadetship at the same time. I couldn’t have done it without the cadetship as I was a single mother and I went into the degree as a mature age student,” Leona said.

“It was such an eye opener for me – I hadn’t realised how big the health gap [between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people] actually was. I never used to think that one person could make a difference but that first year at university made me realise that you can.”

Leona said one of the reasons she wanted to become a midwife was the lack of Aboriginal health professionals within maternity settings.

“We know that Aboriginal people will access health services if there are Aboriginal people working in the facilities,” she said. “It’s fantastic for Aboriginal women and also for staff at the clinics to have more Aboriginal nurses and midwives, as it will ensure our facilities are more culturally appropriate and safe.”

The NSW Aboriginal Nursing and Midwifery Cadetship Program offers:

  • Study allowance of $600 each fortnight whilst undertaking study
  • A $500 book allowance each semester
  • Up to 12 weeks of paid employment in a local health facility
  • Support from an Aboriginal mentor, cadet coordinator and additional clinical support
  • Ongoing employment on successful completion of the program and studies.

Leona said the study allowance and the 12 week work placement was a great help, and the program’s flexibility enabled her to carry out her work placement two days a week over a year, to fit in with her weekly schedule.

“The cadets are work-ready once they finish the program because they’ve already been exposed to clinical experience due to the 12 week work placement,” she said.

To be eligible for a cadetship applicants have to be Aboriginal residents in NSW wishing to undertake an undergraduate degree in nursing and midwifery.

For Leona, the prospect of studying a degree at university for the first time had been daunting, but she overcame the challenges, graduated from university, joined the NSW Health workforce and is now planning to go back to university to do her Masters.

“It was a massive adjustment but going into it as a mature age student I believed my life experience would assist with the demands that study required.

“It was the passion that got me through.”

Applications for the cadetship program close on 16 December 2016. For information about the program and how to apply see the NSW Health website at: NSW Aboriginal Nursing and Midwifery Cadetship Program​; call 1800 155 325; or email aboriginalnursing@doh.health.nsw.gov.au.