Dreaming big during COVID-19

Online healthcare work experience for indigenous, refugee and lower socio-economic high school students

A Monash University program, designed to introduce a tertiary education in health to high school students from refugee and Indigenous backgrounds and lower socio-economic households, has successfully taken its hands-on approach online.

Run by the Monash Gukwonderuk Indigenous Health Unit, the Hands on Health program has been running within the Monash University Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, since 2011 and involves more than 250 Victorian year 9 - 12 students each year.  Once it became clear that the program couldn’t proceed as normal due to COVID-19 restrictions, Gukwonderuk’s director Professor Karen Adams redeveloped the program for online use.

Kicking off May 20th, the online program was able to incorporate, for the first time, students from regional and remote areas across Australia and covered the importance of handwashing, nutrition, and what a career as a nurse or doctor looks like.

Until COVID-19, the program would see successful applicants visit the University’s Clayton campus for two days of hands-on activities incorporating meeting medical students, talking with nutrition lecturers, learning how to suture on a prosthetic arm , practicing first aid on dummies, learning how to put an intravenous drip into an arm using a model and dressing fake wounds.  Students were also provided t- shirts similar to those worn by undergraduate students during their clinical placements and a stethoscope.

Professor Adams highlights that the program introduces students who wouldn’t normally consider a university degree, or a career in health, because they may not have a family member who has received a tertiary education, or they assume it would cost too much.

“These are kids for whom the idea of being a nurse or a physiotherapist or even going to university wouldn’t necessarily be on their radar and we are pleased that by successfully being able to transition this course online, we are now able to attract and reach more Victorian students,” Professor Adams said.

For more information, visit the Hands on Health website.

To register for the virtual work experience sessions on various dates between May and September 2020, visit this page.

If you would like to donate funds towards t-shirts, stethoscopes and healthcare equipment for students please click here and type Hands on Health in Areas of Giving.

For more information about Gukwonderuk or to support our Growing Indigenous Graduates program, please contact:

Professor Karen Adams
Gukwonderuk Indigenous Unit

Donation enquiries:

Megan O’Conor
Deputy Director Development

T: +61 3 9903 1485
M: +61 437 236 878
E: megan.oconnor@monash.edu

Media enquiries:
Monash Media