July 5, 2021

NAIDOC Week 2021: Trinity Saxby’s long journey

NAIDOC Week recognises the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

This year NAIDOC Week theme is ‘Heal Country’. It calls for all of us to continue to seek greater protection for our lands, waters, sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration and destruction.

As part of our NAIDOC Week celebrations, we had two eminent physicians – Dr Angela Dos Santos and Dr Graham Gee speak at a virtual Grand Round last Thursday.

Angela spoke on the importance of providing more awareness about strokes in Aboriginal communities. Her presentation highlighted statistics that showed a high proportion of younger people among First Nations People are affected by stroke and are less likely to recognise the symptoms.

Graham said NAIDOC Week was a “time to reflect on culture.” He spoke about Aboriginal mental health, social and emotional wellbeing and the importance of cultural determinants. He said culture was integral in the mental health assessment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The highlight of our NAIDOC Week celebrations at Northern Health is a virtual session by Nova Peris OAM on Wednesday, 7 July at 12 pm. To watch Nova’s presentation, please click here.

Today we profile Trinity Saxby (pictured above), our newest recruit to the Northern Health Nursing Aboriginal Cadetship.

Trinity is a proud Wulli Wulli woman from Theodore/Cracow in Central Queensland. Trinity grew up in a small town, 40 kilometres off country on Gangalu land.

NAIDOC Week has always been important to Trinity and her mob. For as long as she can remember, her primary and high schools dedicated a day to celebrating NAIDOC Week.

“My mob fought to be recognised as the  Traditional Owners of the land and eventually on Wulli Wulli land in 2014, we got our recognition in an official court hearing. Being granted the right to exercise autonomy over our land and practice cultural activities and ceremonies has given us more control over our land,” Trinity said.

“It has allowed us to have a voice and the ability to protect our land in our local government in regards to activities like mining. Going forward we are aiming to regain native title over land outside the original clan as evidence of our ancestors have been discovered in the land bordering the original map.”

“In 2015, after many years of tireless efforts, my mob was recognised by the Australian Federal Court as the Traditional Owners of over 180,000 hectares of land from Theodore up the Dawson River to Taroom.”

Trinity says, “I have always known I wanted to be in the healthcare field, I just had to find one area I was most passionate about,”

“Originally I wanted to be a doctor, however, after sitting for hours at my grandfather’s bedside in hospital watching the nurses work tirelessly to care for all the patients, I knew then and there what I wanted.”

“This experience has stayed with me for years, growing my passion for nursing. Once I figured out what I wanted, I knew I had to work hard to achieve my goals.”

“I enrolled myself into chemistry, biology and mathematics so I prepared myself for the challenge. I achieved a B+ on my first senior chemistry exam and was told by my grandma “you could do better.” Some may take this remark as hard, but I used it as fuel for my fire. I sat my QCS (Queensland Core Skills) test and nervously awaited my OPs (Overall Positions) score, knowing I needed an OP 13 (an ATAR above 70). I achieved my goal of getting an OP above 13 and was prepared to embrace the challenge that was university.”

Coming from a small town, Trinity said she knew she wanted to branch out and leave her home to focus on achieving her lifelong goal of becoming a nurse.

She originally told her family she was going fly to Singapore to study, but decided make the trek down to Victoria.

“I knew Rockhampton and Brisbane were still too close, so Melbourne it was. I packed my belongings into my car and two weeks after graduating high school, I drove the long three day journey down to Melbourne. The distance is daunting to think about, however I knew it had to be endured to reach my goals,” Trinity said.

Northern Health cadetship Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Registered Undergraduate Student of Nursing (RUSON) model offers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students the opportunity to join Northern Health as an employee, work closely with a Registered Nurse or Midwife, and increase their knowledge and skills as they build their confidence.

They get to apply their learnings directly, learning first hand and strengthening their work readiness – giving them much needed exposure to the work environment they will be joining.

The first two RUSON’s have thrived in the culturally safe space that Northern Health provides. One has been recognised as Employee of the Month on their ward and the other has been recruited into the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Graduate Program.

Northern Health also has in place an Aboriginal and Torres Islander Graduate Program to support newly registered nurses and midwives as they transition to the profession. The first Aboriginal graduate nurse has successfully completed her graduate program and has gained employment at Northern Health.

Penny Ramsden, Clinical School Coordinator, said the programs were designed to build both the skills and the confidence of the participants as future nurses and midwives, knowing the vital role they play in providing outstanding health care to the community.

At the postgraduate level, Northern Health has continued to support employees in further studies. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholarships have added to their success and career progression, enriching Northern Health’s specialist nursing and midwifery workforce.

All programs are sustained by a comprehensive supportive network of preceptors, mentors, nurse unit managers, educators, cultural peer supervision, sessions and study days, Nursing Workforce Unit, Aboriginal Support Unit and Department of Health and Human Services.

Karen Bryant, Senior Aboriginal Health Liaison Officer, said the two programs, along with the postgraduate program, were an investment in the future, empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives and increasing their confidence and competence in their chosen career pathway.

For more information, on our NAIDOC Week celebrations click here.

Featured image: Trinity Saxby with her NAIDOC Week 2021 t-shirt.

Northern Health acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which Northern Health’s campuses are built, the Wurundjeri people, and pay our respects to Elders past and present.