Meet our Students – Delphine Schwarze

Delphine is in the final stages of her Certificate IV in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care Practice, a significant step towards registration as an Aboriginal Health Practitioner with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

Before beginning study with Health Industry Training, Delphine had never considered working in the health sector, nor studying. She raised her 3 daughters while selling flower designs from home and spent 30 years working as a cleaner and cook.

Delphine said, “I figured, at almost 50 years old, it was time to look into something far more rewarding. I had no idea what that was.”

“I started to try my hands at a few different things but found nothing was suiting me.”

In October 2016, her job network representative recommended an upcoming course from Health Industry Training. Delphine was overcome with doubt by the idea, and the decision didn’t come easily.

“I wasn’t exactly the perfect student in my schooling years and I had very little patience for studying,” Delphine said.

“I had many conversations in my head, saying, “I’m not good enough,” and “I’m not smart enough.””

Delphine has always been ambitious, but missed out on many opportunities throughout her life. So, with this opportunity presenting itself, she dove in hesitantly.

She begun studying her Certificate IV in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care Practice in February 2017.

Delphine said, “In my first 12 months of study, it was challenging at times.”

“I actually thought about not showing up on the first day of class.”

Despite initial reservations, she achieved an outstanding 100 percent attendance rate for the course and was subsequently awarded with a scholarship for further study with Health Industry Training.

“What kept me turning up every day for class was the information I was learning about our people,” Delphine said.

“I was hungry for the information… So, I made sure I never missed a day.”

Delphine undertook written and practical training and assessments as part of her studies.  She recalls the pride she was overcome with after being marked as competent in her first piece of assessment.

“I remember the hesitation when I first looked to see if I passed. It was very daunting, and low and behold, I passed. It was very exciting and well, 21 assessments later, I haven’t looked back, just going forward,” she said.

By joining the Aboriginal health sector, Delphine has become part of the solution to closing the health gap for Indigenous Australians.  She has already seen, first-hand, some of the issues that need to be overcome for the health of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Throughout her placement with the Bunbury Hospital, she was given the opportunity to follow the progress of clients.

“You really get to see how much trauma takes hold of their lives, but they keep smiling, and no matter what, they still keep humour alive and well,” Delphine said.

She encountered incidents where her mob were resisting opportunities to better their health, feeling uneasy speaking with health care workers. Her perception of health professionals shifted when she was able to witness and feel the genuine care that these workers have for their patients.

“I attended a meeting with allied [health] staff who were discussing a client’s health care plan. I remember seeing the passion in their eyes, and the drive behind making sure this Aboriginal client was to have all his needs met. The communication across the table came from their hearts, not just from what they studied. It also showed me that there was no room for discrimination and only room for saving a life… Behind the scenes, in the hospitals, are kind-hearted and very passionate people who don’t get acknowledged for what they really do to make a difference for our people.”

Delphine’s passion has since grown stronger.   She now hopes to remove the stigma around health care professionals in her community, as well as ensure the appropriate care is always and readily available.

“This is where I want to close the gap in this industry,” Delphine said.

“To help our people to understand the passion behind many health professionals and the team effort it takes… We can then focus on the health of our people, live longer lives and not be a huge part of statistics in the world,” she said.

On top of these eye-opening experiences, she also considers the lifelong friendships made to be one of the most rewarding outcomes of her study.

Delphine is using the scholarship she earned to gain a Diploma of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care Practice, which she begun studying in June 2018.

“Receiving a scholarship like this will make a huge difference to my life and to my choice of career. To be further qualified than I’d ever imagined, how amazing,” Delphine said.

The more Delphine learns, the more passionate she becomes, and she is honoured to now be an advocate for her people.

“I am a very proud Yamatji woman and what I do know is, our health matters,” Delphine said.

Delphine worked exceptionally hard throughout her studies and found her calling in Aboriginal health.

“I’m heading into this with no idea where this journey is taking me, I do know when I do find the perfect job in this industry, I will have no hesitation in applying for it, especially with all the knowledge and credentials I now have thanks to the training from Health Industry Training and the Bunbury Hospital,” she said.

“I know this is what I’m meant to be doing.”

Health Industry Training would like to congratulate Delphine on her success and the incredible difference she is destined to make to so many lives, as she progresses through her career.