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Health service’s plan to recruit young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff

Published 05 November 2020

Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are being encouraged to make an early start towards a career in healthcare.


Mackay Hospital and Health Service has partnered with CQUniversity and Australian Training Works with support from Northern Queensland Primary Health Network to recruit Year 11 students to a school-based traineeship in 2021.

The program has been named Budyubari Bidyiri Kebi Stapal, which translates to Big Dream, Small Steps.

Chief Executive Jo Whitehead said the program would allow students to achieve healthcare qualifications while they were still at school.

Ms Whitehead said the health service was committed to employing more staff who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

About 2 per cent of the workforce currently identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

“We want to increase that to 5 per cent to be in line with the proportion of the wider health service community that identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander,” she said.

Ms Whitehead said having more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff was important to improve the health service’s cultural capability to support patients.

“We want to engage a workforce that reflects the community we serve. Investing in our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce will also support our Close the Gap initiatives.

“By providing a culturally supported and structured health career pathway we hope to grow a sustainable workforce as well as improve improving education outcomes for young people,” she said.

The name was chosen in consultation with Traditional Custodian Elders and local Torres Strait Island Elders.

Budyubari Bidyiri (Big Dream) in Yuwi language, Kebi (Small) from Eastern Torres Strait dialect and Stepal (Step) Western Torres Strait dialect.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Program Officer Bevan Little said the program would support students to transition from school to work or higher studies.

Mr Little said the health service and CQU would aim to visit 13 secondary schools in Mackay, Sarina, Mirani and Calen this term to promote the program for 2021.

Last updated: 05 November 2020