At our meeting on July 29th Steve Funnell introduced Kellie Menzel (NIKERI Snr lecturer), and Nikki McGrady and Lani Harris (two NIKERI nursing students and Rotary scholarship recipients). Our club has been a supporter of these Scholarships and it was good to have some insight from Kellie as to the program and Nikki and Lani from a participant perspective.
Kellie described the program:
  • 3 year Bachelors of Nursing program that allows graduates to become Registered Nurses
  • Indigenous students from all over Australia are enrolled
  • The course runs on intensive short residential blocks at the Waurn Ponds campus allowing students to study whilst working and attending to their family and cultural obligations. It has typically been a 2 week block every 4 weeks. This provides not only a strong learning and networking and supportive environment for the students but also meets the required face-toface component of the degree. 
  • The course content has been designed to be very culturally appropriate and meaningful for the students
  • There have been significant challenges with Covid and all course study is now online. This has been a particular challenge for students who are in remote parts of the country with poor internet connections. 
Lani and Nikki then spoke about their history, their reasons for taking up the degree, the experience of the course and what they want to do upon graduation. The importance of the Rotary scholarship in assisting them complete the course was talked about by both of them with the funding being used to pay for course costs, home study costs, to cover living costs with leave without pay from employment to attend the course etc. They found out about the scholarship though NIKERI and Deakin staff, and other students who had been recipients, and sincerely thanked the Club for their support. Steve reminded Club members that the initial fundraising for the scholarships was instigated by Gay Lamont, when Steve was District Governor.
  • Is from Queensland and has a strong family connection and role models with nursing in her mother and a cousin
  • Was working in the mining industry in WA in Health and Safety, and wanted to learn more about the health aspect of that, and this led her to enroll in the course
  • The student experience has been very positive for her and helps manage the challenges of fulltime study and fulltime work. The block course nature of the residential have helped her prepare well for these.
  • In the future Lani is very interested to work as an aged care nurse.
  •  Is from Northern NSW, now living in Brisbane
  • She is a mum to a 22 year old and 14 year old and has become a grandparent for the first time recently
  • She is a fulltime community mental health worker and has considerable community and cultural obligations
  • The course structure allows her to direct her focus to where it needs to be at any point in time
  • She particularly values and benefits from the contacts with other students across Australia and considers these will be lifelong friendships and professional networks.