Dietetics building capacity in South East Arnhem

Nutrition and Dietetics Placement

Emma Steuten, a Master of Nutrition and Dietetics student from Flinders University in Adelaide has taken up a 7 week placement based in Nhulunbuy with the Top End Health Service Primary Health Outreach Team.

Emma’s supervisor, Dietician/Public Health Nutritionist for East Arnhem Land South, Lisa Nguyen-Manh, explained the motivation behind the outreach team taking their first Dietetics student. ”It is the exciting opportunities that a student can bring to our team. With our work, there are areas we may not be able to cover in the detail it deserves, [but] a student can join the team for a 7 week period and work in depth on the project.

“It also exposes a student to remote work and how we operate within the remote context. The more exposure students get, the more opportunity we have in attracting and retaining our future workforce”, said Lisa.

Emma Steuten, was very open to a placement anywhere and it is this openness which has led to a successful placement partnership in Nhulunbuy. ”I knew the experiences I would get here would not be anything like those I would get in Adelaide or any other Metropolitan area”.

This is proving true as the project for Emma’s placement which was identified by Lisa and the Primary Health Outreach Team, is to review the engagement and support of Aboriginal Health Centre Staff in community and family-based settings including a nutritional component. “I am conducting a needs assessment, to see the work that the Aboriginal Health Centre Staff are doing in community, including collaboration with the outreach teams. Then I am looking at how we can support that work and encourage it to happen more. It takes all of their cultural knowledge and language in family and community settings to enhance the work that visiting staff do. This type of collaboration has, anecdotally in our setting, shown to increase community engagement. We acknowledge this and are seeking to find ways to further support the Aboriginal Health Centre Staff”, said Emma.

Although Emma is piloting work with communities in South East Arnhem, the intention is for the project to be multidisciplinary and rolled out across all of East Arnhem Land. The project complements Lisa’s work. “We in the Outreach Team are visitors to the health centres and to the communities in which we work. We undertake our work with the support of Aboriginal Health Centre staff which includes Aboriginal Health Practitioners (AHPs) and Aboriginal Community Workers (ACWs) when undertaking Health Promotion activities in the community. As a team, our work is around education and working within the health promotion continuum. Just to have the Aboriginal Health Centre Staff help the outreach visitors deliver education or activities in the community is really, really valuable. The engagement is multiplied when accompanied by Aboriginal staff who have an in-depth understanding of language, culture, and know the connected and appropriate people to talk with. I cannot stress how much these people really enable and enhance the work we do within community.” Lisa said.

The placement future is looking good with Emma currently on track to complete the assigned project within the 7 week time-frame, including further visits to Groote Eylandt and Numbulwar where she will gather information around a needs assessment questionnaire which she has developed.  Data analysis will follow and a report based on her findings, with recommendations for improvements or changes in practice for the future.

During the start of the third week of placement, Lisa’s assessment remains positive. “Having a student who can go through the survey and really think about the work is good. We could not do it to the level of detail that a student can bring “. Lisa said.

The message from East Arnhem Land is –‘come to the NT– there’s heaps of opportunity. It is a beautiful part of the world and your work when you are here can be truly meaningful and capacity building for yourself and the community.

Author: Gemma Porteous – Campus Administrator

Find out more about student placements in the Northern Territory

Posted in
Flinders NT Remote and Rural Interprofessional Placement Learning NT (RIPPL NT) Student Placements