33 Onslow Street, Geraldton WA

University success and local support grows rural health workforce

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Media Release

Geraldton resident Jodie Briese drew on personal experience and her love of family and community when she decided on a career in social work.

Supported by the Geraldton Universities Centre (GUC), Jodie began her tertiary studies by successfully completing the CQUniversity’s STEPS bridging program and gaining entrance into their Bachelor of Social Work (Honours).

“Without the GUC, I wouldn’t have been able to study a university degree,” Jodie said.

“As a single mum, moving to Perth was not an option and I was ecstatic to be part of the very first cohort of social work students at the GUC.“

Practical field placements are a crucial component of the four year degree, and with the support of WA Centre for Rural Health (WACRH) Jodie was able to complete her final year placement here in Geraldton.

Supervised by WACRH Social Work Lecturer Lindi Pelkowitz, Jodie was placed at Mission Australia working across such areas as family support, emergency relief, domestic violence, homelessness, and tenancy support.

“There is a shortage of medical and allied health professionals in rural and regional WA. It’s the purpose of GUC and WACRH to support our local community to live and study locally and build the rural health work force. As a home grown social worker Jodie brings excellent local knowledge and understandings to her role,” Lindi said.

GUC Director Natalie Nelmes spoke highly of the support of local organisations in supporting GUC students by providing them with field placements.  This collaboration means that local organisations are actively contributing to meeting their future workforce needs.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child, and in this case it takes a community to raise a social worker,” Natalie said.

Now a fully qualified social worker, Jodie is working with Communicare as a Facilitator for the Not Our Way men’s behavioural change program.

Communicare CEO Melissa Perry said they were extremely proud to be able to provide job opportunities to local job seekers, including social work graduates.

“Local knowledge is really important for our Communicare’s Midwest Services team to deliver a broad range of services to support local individuals and families living in Geraldton and surrounding areas,” Melissa said.

“I was a kid from Rangeway and thought a university education was a tough goal but with hard work, great support from family, GUC and WACRH I have been able to achieve my goal. There were some difficult moments but these made me stronger. It is so possible to get a university degree while living in Geraldton and to work in the community where I love to live”.  Jodie said.

Jodie will formally graduate with her Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) at GUC’s Graduation Ceremony in April.

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