Keenan moves miles to care for First Nations community

02/Jun/2022     EducationReconciliation

A desire to improve healthcare for Aboriginal people living in North Queensland has inspired Keenan Wynn to trek more than 1,000 km from his home on the Sunshine Coast to study nursing in Townsville.

The Mater Education Indigenous student said studying for a Diploma of Nursing at Mater Private Hospital Townsville was a practical way he could help Close the Gap in Aboriginal people’s health outcomes.

Highlighting National Reconciliation Week, Mr Wynn said increasing the number of First Nations nurses and healthcare practitioners would enhance engagement, collaboration and cultural understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

“My dream is to work as a nurse and treat sick and elderly patients in North Queensland so I can better understand my Indigenous culture and family heritage,” he said.

Mr Wynn’s great grandmother was part of the Stolen Generations, a period of time in Australian history when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were removed from their families.

“Sometimes people are surprised when I say I am Indigenous. The community tends to associate Indigenous people with those who have strong cultural ties,” he said.

“It’s sometimes hard to know where I fit in, but I want to change this perception in our community.”

Mater Education Student Services Team Leader Lauren Andrew said Access and Equity Scholarships were available through Mater Education to help support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to realise their dream of providing culturally appropriate healthcare on country.

“So far, nine of the 40 applicants we’ve received for the July intake to study the Diploma of Nursing Townsville identify as Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander,” Mrs Andrew said.

“This compares with our January intake this year when 10 out of 81 applicants identified as Indigenous, so we are seeing a welcome increase in interest from this demographic.”

Mr Wynn, 34, said the move meant a career change for him from working in the oil and gas industry.

“I made the move from Bli Bli in the Sunshine Coast region specifically to study this Diploma,” he said.

“I wanted a job that enabled me to be more involved in my community.”

Mater’s Diploma of Nursing full time course includes a mix of on-campus and online study, providing flexibility to students and a foundation for a range of healthcare careers.

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