Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands

A row of Aboriginal students studying health in a computer lab

As well as qualifications in health care and community services, graduates of Marr Mooditj Training gain confidence and life skills—and optimise their employability.

Perth, Western Australia: Any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person considering a career in health care (or hospitality) would do well to check out Marr Mooditj Training Aboriginal Corporation. It’s a registered training organisation (RTO) with 34 years’ experience of providing culturally sensitive training and assessment and holistic support, and a mission to maximise the employability of Aboriginal people.

A row of Aboriginal students in a computer lab

Marr Mooditj students in a computer lab

As well as a sharp focus on preparing its students for employment, Marr Mooditj is distinguished by its:

  • support to students to extend their language, literacy and numeracy skills,
  • facilities including a quality café and a professional crèche, and
  • affordability—course fees are subsidised by the state government, and Marr Mooditj can cover travel and accommodation costs.
young children standing around and drawing on a flat whiteboard

Children of Marr Mooditj students enjoying the creche

The corporation grew from a small program designed in 1983 by Sister (now Emeritus Professor) Joan Winch to ‘put Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands’. The first certificate course ran in 1983, and the offerings grew slowly but steadily in response to community needs. Today, Marr Mooditj offers courses in primary health care, mental health, aged care, counselling, nursing and—most recently—hospitality.

Its approach is powerful. Sometimes the combination of training and support that the staff and other students provide is exactly what a person needs to turn their whole life around:

I cannot really comprehend the appreciation and debt of thanks I owe Marr Mooditj Training, the staff and student body for giving me a second chance on life. They really changed my life.

Quality assurance has always been important to Marr Mooditj. It became an RTO in 1997, the very first year it was possible to do so in Western Australia, and it has maintained that status through many audits since. The corporation invests in staff development; directors hold planning and strategy meetings at least twice a year; and the governance structure is designed to encourage continuous improvement. Chair of the Marr Mooditj board, Vanessa Davies, explains the strategy that the board has maintained in accordance with Joan Winch’s founding vision:

We try out a lot of things, and if something works, we keep doing it. If some part of a program doesn’t work so well, we might adapt it, or we might just take it out. We want to put our resources where they’re going to give our students the best chance at employment. We’re a training organisation, but we’re always learning too, and we take pride in that.

The strategy is working, and the proof is not only in the high standard of graduates and the steady growth in turnover. Marr Mooditj wins a lot of awards! The latest, on 25 October 2017, is the ‘non-profit organisation initiatives award’ at the Belmont & Western Australian Small Business Awards.

Student nurse on a placement

A student nurse on placement in St John of God Hospital

Marr Mooditj Training Aboriginal Corporation transferred its registration from the (Western Australian) Associations Incorporations Act 1979 to the CATSI Act in 2016. During the transition, directors were proactive in seeking out all the information they needed, and taking great care and consideration over the details of their registration and rule book. Consistent with their care and consideration they took over the transfer process, the corporation lodged its first annual reports with ORIC well ahead of the 31 December deadline.

Speaking of deadlines, Marr Mooditj courses are already running for 2018—but some courses have a rolling intake or a second intake later in the year—so start planning your studies now.