Empowering Aboriginal Health through Education


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St Vincent’s Clinic Research Foundation grants are available for community health services and related research towards improving health outcomes for those suffering from mental health, homelessness and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

In 2023, the Foundation awarded the Birong Employee Scholarship to three First Nations employees to further their education in fields relevant to St Vincent’s Health.  One of the recipients is Gemma Dargin, a dedicated Aboriginal health worker.  Gemma’s scholarship will assist her in pursuing studies in psychology, reflecting her dedication to bridging modern healthcare with cultural traditions in her community.

Many First Nations people, especially women, struggle to prioritise studies.   Gemma’s story stands as a testament to the potential of education.  It emphasises the importance of creating pathways for indigenous healthcare workers to gain advanced skills and knowledge, enabling them to contribute more effectively to the well-being of our community. 

“By investing in initiatives like the Birong Scholarship, we support the personal growth of individuals like Gemma and ensure that our community benefits from their enhanced expertise and dedication to positive healthcare outcomes.” Katie Viviers, CEO, St Vincent’s Clinic Research Foundation

Gemma plans to advance her studies, seeking APA registration and specialise in clinical or forensic psychology.  She aims to contribute even more significantly to her community’s overall health, with long-term aspirations to join St Vincent’s as a qualified psychologist.

“Many First Nations people are working while looking after families, and this often extends to caring for elders and children who may have otherwise ended up in institutional or out-of-home care, which is not culturally acceptable.  Mine is an all-too-common story in community.  In my early twenties, I found myself in a situation where I had to decide to put a hold on my studies so that I could provide kinship care.  Consequently, I became the sole parent of three young children who I have raised to be strong, proud young people.  While I wouldn’t change it for the world, I have had to complete my studies at a slower pace, balancing the responsibilities of work and children.  Through great determination, I am now in the second year of my degree, which complements my current role in many ways.  I find that I am often applying my learnings.” Gemma Dargin, SVHA Homelessness Unit