Originally from Adelaide, Natasha Wood moved to Alice Springs to undertake a twelve-week, work-based learning placement as part of her Clinical Psychology PhD studies.
Currently, on the third year of her postgraduate PhD studies, Natasha splits her time between two placements: two days at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and two days at the not-for-profit organisation Headspace.
“One of the things that really attracted me about working at Congress was specifically working with Indigenous clients. Congress is a really well-run Aboriginal-controlled health organisation, and the experience working in that kind of environment was something that I would not get if I had stayed in Adelaide. I wanted to try something different and experience something new.”
Natasha also benefits from the cultural education training delivered at the Centre for Remote Health that helps her to gain cultural awareness and understand the wider context of working with Indigenous clients. “The Introduction to Central Australian Aboriginal Cultures and Context, colloquially known as the ‘Intro Day’, enables student on placement in the central region, to gain an insight and understanding of the rich Aboriginal culture. The short course also highlights the social determinants of health, those factors that attribute to Aboriginal health” says Barbara Richards, Lecturer of Indigenous knowledges and culture.
Natasha’s other placement, with Headspace, involves working with young clients. “Headspace is the National Youth Mental Health Foundation for people aged 12 to 25” says Natasha. “It gives me a chance to work with young people, which is something I also really enjoy.”
When an opportunity presented itself to move for a placement to Alice Springs, Natasha moved swiftly. She completed her interview in Adelaide via video link, and the role was offered to her – just like that, easy!
“I looked at it, and I went, that sounds like that would be a really cool opportunity to do something different – to experience something different. I thought it would help to diversify my skills and learning and give me a chance to have a really cool experience”.
Both of the placement opportunities provide Natasha with a diverse experience that helps her acquire an advanced skillset to work as a fully qualified Psychologist in the future.
She particularly enjoys furthering her knowledge of the Social and Emotional wellbeing model which is a culturally appropriate way of working with her Aboriginal clients, and that combines a holistic approach to mental, emotional, and physical health.
“The social and emotional wellbeing model is really important in Indigenous culture and when working with Indigenous people. And that model, when we learned about it in class, I just loved it. It really spoke to me, and I wanted to find out more about working with it. And working with Indigenous people seems like the best way to learn about it.”
Outside of work, Natasha enjoys the beautiful Central Australian landscape and frequently goes out bushwalking. She has also made new friends and joined a few social clubs in Alice Springs.
“I’ve been up Mount Gillen, and along the top of the ranges there where you can see all of Alice Springs. I have also been up to the telegraph station, and I participated in a weaving workshop as well, which was really cool.”
“I am really enjoying the culture here. The amount of art that there is around and all of the community events. I joined the bushwalking group. I joined social soccer so like there are always people around who are keen to go and do things, which is amazing”.
She is also delighted with the low-rate subsidised accommodation arranged by Flinders NT that she gets to use during her time in Alice Springs. It allowed her to further her social circles and make friends who also work in Allied Health.
“There are three student units in the area that I’m living in. I have two housemates and one of them is going to be here for all the same amount of time as me. She is on a long-term social work placement. I have another housemate who is a speech pathology student who joined us this week. The accommodation is really, really nice.”
To anyone hesitating about doing a placement in a Rural and Remote Australia, Natasha says: “Just do it! You never know until you try it, and it is good to get out of your comfort zone to learn new skills and try new experiences”.
Natasha’s placement in Alice Springs was facilitated by Flinders Rural and Remote staff in Alice Springs. To find out more about Allied Health placement opportunities in the Northern Territory: visit our website for more details, and contact the Flinders NT RIPPL team.