Indigenous primary health care teacher Sue Edwards is on a mission to make learning accessible and inclusive.

Drawing on nearly four decades of experience as a Registered Nurse, Sue said she was proud to deliver training aimed at Closing the Gap.

"Knowledge is so powerful. Being able to provide students with training in a culturally appropriate, meaningful way ensures many others in their workplaces and communities will also benefit from their knowledge and skills," she said.

Sue began teaching at TAFE Queensland more than a decade ago and brings a wealth of knowledge into the classroom.

"During my 20 years of living in Queensland, I have been lucky to have spent time in many different Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This opportunity has increased my understanding and empathy of the many challenges First Australians and their communities still face, particularly in rural and remote areas."

Sue, who is based at the TAFE Queensland Cairns campus, said she was passionate about helping her students succeed.

"I take pride in providing an inclusive learning environment and taking the time to acknowledge differences without judgement and getting to know the strengths of every student," Sue said.

"In terms of wording and scenarios, I'm only too happy to rework and contextualise the course material and create additional resources to ensure the content is meaningful for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students."

"I've had students whose literacy in terms of understanding was excellent, but their writing and spelling was poor. So they're really smart, but if they had been in a mainstream class and didn't receive the teaching support they needed, they would not have succeeded or overcome their challenges."

Sue's dedication to improve the education of others was recognised when she won the 2020 Tropical North Queensland VET Teacher of the Year Award.

"The thing I love most about teaching is being in a position to truly make a difference. I love the interaction with students and being part of their learning journey to help them reach their goals," Sue said.

"It is so rewarding and satisfying when a student comes up to tell you they really like the way you teach, that you can explain things in a way that makes it easy to understand, that you're approachable, or that they look forward to coming to class."

"I see teaching as a two-way process where I am also the recipient of learning. I learn so many things from my students, who as adult learners come to the classroom with a wealth of life experiences," Sue continued.

"Working within Indigenous health has enriched my life, both personally and professionally. I have been to places that most people haven’t even heard of. I have met the most amazing people who have been willing to share their culture and who have made me feel very welcome and valued in their communities."

Sue said there was a high demand for trained Indigenous health workers.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers are the vital link that connects individuals and communities with health services. These workers are highly trusted and are powerful advocates who ensure the rights, needs and preferences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities are considered in all aspects of service delivery and planning," Sue said.

"TAFE Queensland is meeting the need for more Indigenous health workers by offering a range of qualifications that include electives chosen in consultation with industry. This ensures students complete their primary health care training with the desired knowledge and skills to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities."

Find out how TAFE Queensland can help you start a career supporting the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. 

Learn more about allied health courses  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student support

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