Motivated by her Mob
Wiradjuri woman Jamie Maney knows life can be hard, but she also knows that life’s hurdles and roadblocks are no barrier to following a dream.
Jamie was able to realise her long-held dream in mid-2020 when she graduated as an enrolled nurse with Mater Education and began working as a practice nurse with the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service in New South Wales.
But the journey was not easy.
“In my late teens my grandmother, who reared me, fell seriously ill with a burst brain aneurism and needed to stay in hospital for an extended period,” she said.
“Spending time with her in hospital opened my eyes to the need for more nurses and healthcare workers who understood and were culturally sensitive to Aboriginal people.”
While her grandmother’s experience sowed the seeds for a healthcare career, being a 19-year-old single mum meant the time was not right for change and Jamie had to keep working in the public service.
A period of community service work with Indigenous elders in aged care a few years later made the pull towards nursing stronger but Jamie’s chance to renavigate her life journey only arrived at age 35.
“I was living in a brutally violent relationship and despite a number of attempts to break away, it was only at 35 that I was finally able to escape with my 15-year-old son and not much else,” she said.
“When we first got to Brisbane, I took on cleaning jobs and worked as a nurse’s assistant in aged care so I could support my son and myself. At this time, I also started noticing Facebook ads for Mater Education’s Diploma of Nursing.
“With the trauma of my relationship and leaving Canberra behind me, I finally had the headspace and time to follow that teenage call to nursing.”
Jamie applied and was accepted to study with Mater Education in 2018 and was offered an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholarship that covered her tuition costs.
“It was a foreign world and quite daunting, but I got a lot of support from our teachers and other students. The educators, who were also nurses and clinicians, were really kind and encouraging and helped with tutoring on top of the regular classroom lessons. I don’t know if I would have completed it without their help,” she said.
“I almost quit in semester two because the content was challenging, but the support of the educators was phenomenal. They broke down the content so it was easily understood, and the dots started to join and it all began to make sense.
“At the end of those 18 months I was very grateful that I stuck it out because I made some close friends and I felt well prepared for what I would face in the real world.”
Jamie graduated with a Diploma of Nursing in 2019 just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. She started her job with the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service the next year.
“It’s important for me as an Aboriginal woman to work with my mob. I’m able to easily connect with the patients and there are fewer barriers because of our cultural connection,” Jamie said.
“I was brought up in a similar way to many of the patients we see. I can identify with the lives they are leading and the health issues they face and I don’t have any judgement about how they are living their lives.
“There’s a big Indigenous population here in Orange and our service plays an important role in improving our community’s wellbeing because the relationships we build mean our patients are more likely to trust and take our advice.”
Jamie’s journey has been long but she’s proud of making her dream a reality.
“I’ve met lots of indigenous women who’ve said they’re interested in nursing but never got a chance to pursue the career. I’m proof that it’s possible to realise a goal, no matter how many hurdles are put in your path,” she said.
“I am now the first nurse in my family, and I know my grandmother would be very proud of me.”
Interested in a career in nursing? Apply now for Mater Education's Diploma of Nursing and you can start studying in July in Townsville or South Brisbane.
You can become a nurse in just 18 months! Find out more here: https://www.matereducation.qld.edu.au/career-entry-qualifications/diploma-of-nursing