EAGER TO HELP: USC Gympie nursing students Cassandra Canty, Heidi Torrens and Kylie Hoogstraten are heading to Indonesia to complete the Colombo Plan Mobility Program.
EAGER TO HELP: USC Gympie nursing students Cassandra Canty, Heidi Torrens and Kylie Hoogstraten are heading to Indonesia to complete the Colombo Plan Mobility Program. Troy Jegers

Three Gympie student nurses headed for life-changing trip

A SMALL band of Gympie USC nursing students will join 45 of their peers from the Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast and Caboolture campuses to complete clinical placements in Indonesia starting this month.

Nursing Science lecturers Matt Mason and April Martin will lead Cassandra Canty, Heidi Torrens and Kylie Hoogstraten among 23 students on the Australian Government's New Colombo Plan Mobility Program in January.


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And in the months leading up to their trip, the Gympie contingent will be doing their best to raise funds towards a cardiac and transport monitor for the Karima Health Care Community in and around Yogyakarta.

Apart from a GoFundMe page which has raised $1000 towards a $4500 goal, the trio have set up a Bunnings Sausage sizzle for November 11, and a Gympie Cinemas screening of Charlie's Angels on November 22.

All three of those fundraisers are not USC-official, with the students organising all three themselves in their efforts to help the Karima community.

The trips will see them work alongside Karima, a local non-government organisation, to assist with health screening in local villages through activities like measuring cholesterol and blood pressure.

They will also visit schools in the region, giving health promotion presentations on hand hygiene, oral health, and safe motorcycle riding practices.

"It's also about cultural awareness - Australia is very multicultural so being able to use the skills we'll learn in Indonesia about dealing with different languages and communication barriers, not having some of the things we might need, and then implementing them back into our practice,” Ms Canty said.

"I think it's good to see how lucky we are as a country and what our health system actually provides compared to these people,” Ms Torrens said.

The New Colombo program is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and provides grants to Australian universities to support undergraduates to complete semester-based or short-term placements in 40 locations across the Indo-Pacific region.

"This is the third trip I've gone on with students to placements in Yogyakarta and it's such a great process to see them get a great grounding in the fundamental skills of community nursing, and also find out more about each other's experiences as USC students,” Mr Mason said.

"It's powerful to see the students being immersed into a health system and culture they're not used to and gaining that shared experience with fellow students regardless of which campus they've been studying at. It fosters some great cross-campus collaborations.” The two placements are funded through a 2019 grant worth $511,500 over three years.

USC has also been successful in securing almost $580,000 in the 2020 New Colombo Plan Mobility Program application round, to support 173 students to participate in nine projects.

The trio's GoFundMe can be found at au.gofundme.com/f/usc-nursing-students-in-indonesia.