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1 June 2012

Aboriginal students encouraged to kickstart their career

WA Health's Aboriginal Cadetship Program has proved so successful a second intake of cadets is being rolled out ahead of schedule.

Launched last August the program saw six young Aboriginal students initially offered a cadetship.

The cadetship program offers Aboriginal university students the opportunity to gain 12 weeks paid work experience while completing an undergraduate degree.

Alex Blackman, 22, believes his cadetship has been the ideal way to gain valuable, real-life work experience while balancing his study commitments.

Currently studying for a Bachelor of Science degree, which he hopes to complete this semester, Alex has worked within WA Health's Environmental Health Directorate since late last year.

He recently visited Pilbara communities as part of an Aboriginal environmental health training program.

"The program centred on the basics of controlling dog health, including dog population control and treating dogs for internal and external parasites, improving their health and reducing the risk of disease and parasite transmission to humans.

"Dogs are very much a part of Aboriginal communities and unhealthy dogs can lead to unhealthy people," Alex said.

"It was also a great opportunity to meet some of the Aboriginal agencies we work in partnership with and provide training for."

Alex admitted an unexpected benefit of the program had been learning about other WA Health projects.

"The cadetship has really opened my eyes to the diversity of careers available," Alex said.

"Other cadets are working on projects including quit smoking campaigns and guiding service improvement across the health system.

"It makes you realise just how many opportunities there are here."

Department of Health Aboriginal Health Director Jenni Collard said the program was a vital step towards improving the health of Aboriginal people across Western Australia.

"Although Aboriginal people account for only 3.4 per cent of the State's population, their health outcomes remain much lower than of any other group in our community," Ms Collard said.

"Attracting and retaining strong performing cadets will develop WA Health's skilled workforce and be instrumental in shaping future strategies to improve Aboriginal health.

"The program is also an ideal way for students to lay the foundations for a career in WA Health once they finish their studies."

Get more information on the Aboriginal Cadetship Program.

Applications close 4pm Friday 29 June.

Media contact: 9222 4333

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