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New First Nations cadet program opens up a world of opportunities

[by Trease Clarke]

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 Image: supplied

The New Charles Sturt First Nations Cadetship Program is proving successful just one year into operation, producing long-lasting academic and employment benefits for students and the community.

The Program, which saw its first cadet commence work in 2021, offers Charles Sturt First Nations students a pathway for a career at the University and increases their employability in the wider workforce through study-relevant hands-on experience which complements the student’s undergraduate studies in their final years.

Conducted through the Charles Sturt First Nations Australian Employment Office in the Division of  People and Culture, each cadet is required to complete roughly one day a week working for the faculty or division that has offered the cadetship, allowing them to continue their studies for the majority of the week.

First Nations Cadetship Coordinator in the Charles Sturt Division of People and Culture Ms Meg Evans is delighted with the uptake and success of the program in its early phase.

“We’ve had a tremendous response to the First Nations Cadetship Program since we started approaching faculties and students in 2020,” Ms Evans said.

“At Charles Sturt we are always looking for ways to improve employment outcomes for First Nations students.

“The cadetships offer tangible and accessible employment pathways that will boost the number of First Nations employees at Charles Sturt and in the wider workforce.”

“Each cadetship provides First Nations students with the opportunity to gain experience in research and in other ways in the discipline they are studying, while also getting paid for it.

“The day-time hours required to work in a Charles Sturt cadetship generally provide a better work-life balance for the student too, instead of other forms of employment students seek out such as night-time bar work.”

Master of Teaching (Primary) student in the Charles Sturt School of Education Ms Alison Guppy said it was through her work with the Charles Sturt Office of Global Engagement and Partnerships and interest in studying abroad that led her to the First Nations Cadetship Program.

“I’d planned to study in Canada in 2020 but then COVID-19 hit which prevented this,” Ms Guppy said.

“I kept in contact with the Global team, working with them to apply for a New Columbo Plan Scholarship which would have seen me working overseas, after which they suggested I apply for a cadetship under the First Nations Program.”

Ms Guppy said getting to know the team in the Global office during the scholarship application process gave her extra confidence to apply for a cadetship when it was suggested.

“The staff helped me to develop my portfolio when I was applying for the Columbo scholarship which meant we all got to know each other really well, which opened up the possibility of me working with them in a cadetship capacity.”

Ms Guppy said the staff she has worked with throughout her cadetship have been extremely accommodating and supportive of her needs. 

“I live one and a half hours away from the University in Albury which makes it hard to travel to and from every day,” she said.

“Meg travelled all the way from Wagga Wagga to my home in Benalla in north-east Victoria, bringing computer screens, keyboards – the works - to set me up remotely, where I have worked ever since!”

Ms Guppy said the cadetship has broadened her horizons on the different career opportunities that are available to her.

“The cadetship work I am doing has introduced me to so much information about the different jobs at universities when you travel abroad,” she said.

“If I find that classroom teaching isn’t my thing, I could consider the many other opportunities that exist in the global world, and right here at Charles Sturt – I could easily pursue another career path down the track!”

The First Nations Cadetship program is typically open to undergraduate students in their final years of study at Charles Sturt, who are pursuing courses through any of the schools or faculties at the University. Consideration is also given to postgraduate students on a case-by-case basis.

Each cadetship runs for between one to two years with a requirement of completing approximately 420 hours each year. Cadets work with their supervisors to establish individual programs that fulfill this commitment.

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