LISTENING: Speech Pathology student Hannah Thompson (right) with Professor Bronwyn Fredericks at the recent AIME launch for 2016.
LISTENING: Speech Pathology student Hannah Thompson (right) with Professor Bronwyn Fredericks at the recent AIME launch for 2016. Contributed

Hannah lends an ear

CQUNI speech pathology student Hannah Thompson believes she has plenty to offer the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience program.

She says the biology and phonetics fundamentals of her university degree should help explain concepts in the science and English school subjects faced by indigenous teens.

Hannah is also keen to share her personal journey - as a proud Indigenous woman from the Kara Kara tribe of the Central Highlands region - to encourage the up-and-coming kids in the AIME program to seek out what sort of career they are really interested in.

The Kara Kara tribe connection is particularly relevant since the Central Highlands is a core part of the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance footprint of operations, and Hannah has gained a BMA Indigenous Scholarship to support her health degree studies.

"After graduation, I'm keen to remain in the wider Central Queensland region as a health professional ... our regional areas need more health professionals to live and work in the region to combat skills shortages," Hannah said.

As a top-grade netballer who has been selected for the Australian Budgies Indigenous Netball team, Hannah has enjoyed coaching Indigenous children in netball skills through the Indigenous Youth Sports Program conducted at CQUniversity each September.

"Being accepted into the Bachelor of Speech Pathology (with Honours) program at CQUniversity was an exciting moment for me," Hannah says.

"The profession is always looking for more qualified people especially in remote and rural towns, so that will be my sole focus.

"Indigenous kids will be a high priority, especially those who are less fortunate and do not have access to great educational services. The opportunity for working with people who have speech impairments or difficulties is a growing industry and governments are working hard to try to close the gap for Indigenous Australians in education and health.

"I believe I could make a valuable contribution as a speech pathologist working for the education or health departments."

AIME is a national program that aims to build aspirations for students to succeed at school and enrol in a VET or undergraduate course.

The CQUniversity-based program, which has run in Rockhampton for four years, kicked off its second year in Gladstone this year and is now offering the program to Mackay for the first time, thanks to grant funding from the Australian Government's Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program. Woorabinda will also receive an outreach program this year.

The Office of Indigenous Engagement hosts the program at CQUniversity.

Professor Bronwyn Fredericks, pro vice-chancellor (Indigenous Engagement) and BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance chair in Indigenous Engagement, said "it was great over the last two weeks to interact with Indigenous students from Mackay, Rockhampton and Gladstone along with community members who were supporting the program".

"I look forward to seeing the outcomes AIME will achieve this year and witnessing Indigenous students participating in the program grow in skills, knowledge and confidence.

"AIME is an example of where students of the University can get involved with Indigenous people and communities and can give back to others within the Central Queensland region."

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