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A priceless experience

1 Mar 2021

Mental health nursing student Gabrielle Wilton recently travelled to Nhulunbuy and Groote Eylandt in East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory
for her remote placement experience. Here’s her story.

I caught my first small plane ever, when I flew with five oth­er pas­sen­gers from Nhu­lun­buy to Groote Eylandt to begin my place­ment. The scenery was unbe­liev­able and the plane was shaky, so much fun nonetheless!

I spent my first week there with a remote men­tal health nurse, pro­vid­ing out­reach men­tal health ser­vices to sev­er­al Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties across Groote Eylandt. 

Through­out the week I spent some time doing con­sul­ta­tions with clients in the com­mu­ni­ty clinics. 

How­ev­er most of the expe­ri­ence involved vis­it­ing clients in the com­mu­ni­ty. I was lucky enough to meet peo­ple with the most diverse back­grounds and life expe­ri­ences which was extreme­ly humbling. 

Being my first remote expe­ri­ence, I ini­tial­ly expe­ri­enced some cul­ture shock, how­ev­er the more expo­sure and knowl­edge I gained over the first few days, the more I was able to under­stand that each indi­vid­ual has a unique sto­ry to tell which often influ­ences their cur­rent circumstances. 

It felt empow­er­ing to be able to assist peo­ple in these Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties and be the lis­ten­ing ear that some needed. 

On the final day of week one, we trav­elled to a much small­er remote Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ty known as Num­bul­war. I was able to spend the day work­ing along­side the social work­er, which opened my eyes to the way the mul­ti- dis­ci­pli­nary team work togeth­er with­in the com­mu­ni­ty to meet the needs of indi­vid­u­als from a social and emo­tion­al perspective. 

I have to men­tion the flight to Num­bul­war. Our pilot, Dylan offered me the seat next to him as pilot passenger. 

The view from the front was amaz­ing and an unfor­get­table expe­ri­ence that I would nev­er have had with­out this place­ment offer. 

I spent my final week of place­ment in Nhulunbuy/​Gove Penin­su­la at Miwatj Abo­rig­i­nal Health Corporation. 

I worked along­side anoth­er men­tal health nurse and car­ried out sim­i­lar tasks to those in the first week. We con­sult­ed with com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers with acute and chron­ic men­tal health concerns.

It was a cul­tur­al tour through­out the week – I vis­it­ed the incred­i­ble Yir­rkala Art Cen­tre, Gar­ma where the famous Gar­ma Fes­ti­val is tra­di­tion­al­ly held, and learned about the local com­mu­ni­ty and cul­ture and the his­to­ry of the Yol­ngu people.

Over­all, my expe­ri­ence from a men­tal health and a remote Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ty per­spec­tive was price­less. I have learned so much about Indige­nous cul­ture that I will car­ry with me through­out my entire career. 

This CRANAplus Under­grad­u­ate Remote Place­ment Schol­ar­ship was spon­sored by Hut­Six soft­ware and web development.