Whether it be behind the wheel of an ambulance or in the wards tending to patients, Wellington student Liam Miller has always wanted to work in healthcare.
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Now he's one step closer to realising that dream after graduating from a "life changing" traineeship program and becoming a qualified assistant nurse.
"I've always wanted to work in health and be a paramedic or a nurse or a doctor... whatever my heart decides," he said.
"This traineeship has offered so many opportunities to me, it's opened my eyes to a heap of things - different professions and different people... it helped me get into university.
"Every minute was different and every day was different. You could never walk in the doors and experience the same thing."
Mr Miller was one of twelve Indigenous students from Western NSW who celebrated their graduation from the School-Based Apprenticeship and Traineeship (SBAT) Program on Wednesday, November 15, at a ceremony in Dubbo.
Shakyiah Elemes, from Dubbo, completed a traineeship in allied health, an experience she said is "empowering". Like Mr Miller, she chose the traineeship because she wants to be a doctor.
"The traineeship experience was a unique and rewarding journey," she said.
"One memory I will take away from this whole experience is how good it felt to be a part of a patient getting better and getting to go home.
"What I learned about myself throughout the traineeship is how resilient I am, having to overcome the struggle of balancing school, work and the traineeship showed me how strong I was."
The SBAT program provides year 11 and 12 students with the opportunity to earn an industry recognised qualification in the health sector while gaining paid work experience as part of their HSC.
Jarrad Smith, traineeship coordinator at the Western NSW Local Health District, said it's "so exciting" to be able to offer students these kinds of opportunities.
"Our graduates come from all over the District, from the bigger regional centres to smaller areas, and have different backgrounds and life experience," he said.
"I'm incredibly proud of them and I'm thrilled to say a number of these graduating trainees have received early entry into university and plan on staying and working in the District. I'm excited to see their careers develop."
Also among the programs first entirely-Aboriginal cohort were Georgie Harrison and Taylor Wright from Coolah, Summer Williams and Charlie Duclos from Cowra, Eliza Saunders from Condobolin, Livia Hickey and Zade-Abell Mullins from Bathurst, Callie Hutchings from Blayney and Noah Kernaghan from Rylstone.
Health minister Ryan Park congratulated all the students on their effort completing the two-year program.
"It takes incredible dedication to earn a qualification like this while also completing the HSC, so I wholeheartedly congratulate all 12 trainees from Western NSW, who trained in a range of disciplines including Nursing, Allied Health and Administration," he said.
"These opportunities open up a huge range of pathways for students in our communities, from being qualified to work as an Assistant in Nursing or acting as a stepping stone into further study, the SBAT program is a great way to kick-start a career in healthcare."
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