Health and education in the spotlight 

Prof. Kayrooz will explore the strategies for new approaches to training in her lecture on Tuesday 10 October at the NT Museum and Art Gallery

The biggest challenge in training teachers and nurses was in developing courses that fitted the unique needs of the Northern Territory, says Carole Kayrooz, the dean of education, health and science at Charles Darwin University (CDU).

Professor Kayrooz says the Territory’s population was not only smaller than the rest of Australia, but it was younger, there was greater population mobility and 30 per cent were Indigenous.

“Even though the population is relatively small, its diversity means there are quite specific needs that should be recognised,” she says. “One of these needs is to develop training that will equip teachers and nurses for working in this unique environment.”

She says that nursing training has remained traditional in concentrating on the clinical side of health care—the model based on training for intensive care nursing in hospitals.

However, those nurses in the Northern Territory likely to find jobs in remote areas must be alerted to the need for working within more broadly-based health programs that benefited Indigenous communities.

Teacher training needed a similar emphasis on the Territory’s challenges, which was being met by the recent decision to provide more classroom training in schools.

Under CDU’s revamped teacher training course, the new Bachelor of Teaching and Learning will see trainees in the classroom from the first semester of their course.

The amount of time spent in designated learning schools in the Darwin and Alice Springs areas will gradually increase, with trainees working with mentors and specialist teachers in designated schools in partnership with the Department of Education, Employment and Training.

Professor Kayrooz says the new bachelor course is an example of the innovative approach needed to training in the Territory, where partnerships with both the health and education sectors were essential.

“But one of the major components of success is strong staff leadership,” she says. “Leaders, particularly those with experience in remote areas, can flavour the curriculum so that it is far more relevant to today’s needs.”

She says education and health educators were now working very hard to design curricula that met all the needs of the Territory.

In nursing, for example, the new curriculum would offer an elective on engineering logistics, designed for nurses who would be working in remote communities.

“The nurse might need to fix a tank, or manage the waste water system,” she says.

Professor Kayrooz will explore the strategies for new approaches to training in her lecture tomorrow night at the NT Museum and Art Gallery.

The lecture, at 6pm, is the second in the series of free public lectures by CDU experts designed to examine some of the major contemporary issues confronting the Territory.

The series continues on October 17 with Dr Jonathan Carapetis, director of the Menzies School of Health Research, detailing research findings on Aboriginal child health.

Find out more about upcoming CDU Public Lecture Series.