Domestic violence research, youth support and Aboriginal health on the cards for Mid West social work students

Phoebe PinMidwest Times
WA Centre for Rural Health clinical supervisor Lindi Pelowitz (far left) with social work students Hana Sarich, Michelle Gay, Emily Johnson, Megan McKenna, Lenny Papertalk, Brianna Nugent, Lucy Wells and Gabbie Martin.
Camera IconWA Centre for Rural Health clinical supervisor Lindi Pelowitz (far left) with social work students Hana Sarich, Michelle Gay, Emily Johnson, Megan McKenna, Lenny Papertalk, Brianna Nugent, Lucy Wells and Gabbie Martin. Credit: Picture: Phoebe Pin

A group of social work students will learn how to use their skills to support Mid West communities as part of a university placement program at the WA Centre for Rural Health.

The students arrived in Geraldton late last month and will be completing three-month placements at locations such as Short Term Accommodation for Youth, Geraldton Regional Hospital, Desert Blue Connect and Centacare’s Mt Magnet facility.

WACRH clinical social work supervisor Lindi Pelkowitz said some students returned to work in the regions after graduating.

“The research has shown that students who do their field work in the regions are more likely to take jobs in the regions,” she said.

“We see this as part of the pipeline of enabling people from the metro area to take jobs in the regions.

“When they come into the regions they have an opportunity to really see the difference between metro and regional and rural.”

Curtin University student Brianna Nugent said she was looking forward to learning more about the role of social workers in supporting Aboriginal health and wellbeing during her placement.

“I’ll be going to Mt Magnet and working with Centacare who run the Bidi Bidi program, which is working with getting children ready for school and trying to increase retention rates in schools,” she said.

“I think it is very important work and I think there will be a lot of Indigenous engagement through that program ... it is a very different program to what we would learn in Perth.”

Fellow Curtin University student Megan McKenna will complete her placement at STAY, saying she was looking forward to a hands-on learning experience at the support centre.

“I am advised it is very much going to be some real social work experience, so a lot of client contact and being able to actually work alongside the people I am supporting instead of just working behind a desk,” she said.

“Within STAY, it will be a lot of supporting people with whatever they need.

“The first priority is housing and accommodation support, but it’s also anything that comes along with that and really being able to support them on a much deeper level.”

Griffith University student Michelle Gay will be based at WACRH’s Geraldton site while she completes a research project focused on family and domestic violence as part of her masters in social work and mental health practice.

With a background in teaching and nursing, Ms Gay said she plans to pursue a career in research.

“One of my biggest passions is research and policy development, particularly around regional and remote areas,” she said.

“I am passionate about meeting the needs of the community and being able to advocate from a funding perspective or policy perspective that is relevant, culturally appropriate, and serves the community with the support of WACRH.

“I think I have finally found what I really want to do and it has been such a rich experience already, so I am really grateful to be working in this community.”

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