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Student story: Holistic and Culturally Safe practice in Ntaria

7 Apr 2023

Undergraduate nursing student Karleigh Barbour reflects on her 2022 remote placement in Ntaria (Hermannsburg), NT, where her dream of becoming a RAN began to feel more like a reality.

This CRANAplus Under­grad­u­ate Remote Place­ment Schol­ar­ship was spon­sored by HESTA.

Kar­leigh enjoy­ing her time in Alice Springs

I have lived in WA for the last 17 years. I’ve trav­elled through­out this vast state from coast­lines to remote lands, but some­thing keeps call­ing me to the red dirt of remote Aus­tralia. This is why I jumped at the oppor­tu­ni­ty when asked if I was inter­est­ed in a four-week remote area nurs­ing place­ment at Ntaria (Her­manns­burg) NT, 126km out­side of Alice Springs. I thought to myself wow how lucky am I!” What an amaz­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty to work along­side remote area nurs­es (RANs) and Abo­rig­i­nal Health Prac­ti­tion­ers (AHPs) and con­sol­i­date my learn­ing in a remote Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Islander (here­after, respect­ful­ly referred to as Indige­nous) community.

I arrived at Alice Springs on a warm 39-degree day. The taxi ride to my accom­mo­da­tion felt like I had my own per­son­al tour guide: a love­ly man from Nige­ria who had lived in Alice Springs for the last 10 years and was super keen to edu­cate me on all things Cen­tral Aus­tralia. He spoke about the local his­to­ry of Alice Springs (tra­di­tion­al name Mparn­twe), the tra­di­tion­al cus­to­di­ans who are the Arrernte peo­ples, and the West Mac­Don­nell Ranges (tra­di­tion­al name Tjorit­ja) which were cre­at­ed dur­ing Dream­time by Indige­nous ances­tors and rep­re­sent a rain­bow cater­pil­lar called Utnerren­gatye. What a great start!

My overnight tran­sit accom­mo­da­tion in Alice Springs was a love­ly share house with oth­er health stu­dents from across Aus­tralia. Big thank you to Eri­ca from NT Health for organ­is­ing all my accom­mo­da­tion whilst in the NT. I could not have done this with­out you!

Kar­leigh (right) with RAN Demi Williams (left)

The next morn­ing, I was up super ear­ly and ready to start my jour­ney to Ntaria. I was picked up by a love­ly man from India who had lived in the NT for the last five years. Again, I felt like I had anoth­er per­son­al tour guide.

I arrived at Ntaria Clin­ic and was greet­ed by an amaz­ing team of RANs and AHPs keen to share their knowl­edge on remote area nurs­ing, cul­ture, and where the best places are to eat in Alice. The sup­port I received was impec­ca­ble. I was able to con­sol­i­date my learn­ing into clin­i­cal prac­tice, gain new knowl­edge and insight, and assist with emer­gency evac­u­a­tions with Roy­al Fly­ing Doc­tor Service.

The local Indige­nous work­ers were fan­tas­tic, all shar­ing their cul­tur­al knowl­edge and Dream­ing sto­ries and the dif­fer­ent native plants/​roots/​seeds that sup­port bush med­i­cine – some­thing I will cher­ish for­ev­er. All in all, the staff at Ntaria Clin­ic demon­strat­ed the fun­da­men­tals of what it takes to become a great nurse. I will be for­ev­er grate­ful that I got to expe­ri­ence the holis­tic and Cul­tur­al­ly Safe care they provide.

On one of my days off, one of the RANs and I went hik­ing through Ormis­ton Gorge. We ticked off the buck­et list the 9km Ormis­ton Pound walk and what an amaz­ing view of the Coun­try it was. Words can­not describe the beau­ty of this land­scape: the colours, the wildlife, and the spaces in between were tru­ly mag­nif­i­cent. We also went swim­ming at Glen Helen Gorge (tra­di­tion­al name Yapalpe) where the Finke Riv­er runs through dur­ing the wet season.

I feel so blessed that I was able to expe­ri­ence a remote area nurs­ing place­ment in the NT. The friend­ships, mem­o­ries, and valu­able knowl­edge I gained are price­less. I hope to become a RAN one day and make all my pre­cep­tors proud of the knowl­edge they gave to me.

Big thank you to CRANAplus for this schol­ar­ship. I am tru­ly grate­ful for this oppor­tu­ni­ty and the sup­port I received. Thank you!

Apply for an Under­grad­u­ate Remote Place­ment Schol­ar­ship for finan­cial sup­port dur­ing your clin­i­cal place­ment, or read about the expe­ri­ences of oth­er stu­dents includ­ing Chris and Annabelle.