The tyranny of distance has long been a barrier to higher education for the residents of West Coast Tasmania, but it’s hoped a new initiative that takes education to the people will help improve access for regional communities.
The Associate Degree in Applied Health and Community Support was launched in February 2019 following consultation with the health, disability, mental health, aged care, social and community service sectors to address significant changes in service models and consumer expectation.
The course has been offered from the University’s three campuses in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie since term one and was offered for the first time from Rosebery in term three this year.
Cradle Coast Campus coordinator Dr Anne Heath said she saw a need for the two-year program to be delivered locally to address the unique concerns of the region.
"Sometimes, you don't even think about what you're going to do,” she said about weighing up study and career options on the West Coast.
“You work in the mines. It's a good lifestyle but you need to have another option to fall back on. Mines close down and people suffer all types of experiences because of that and who is there to help?”
The associate degree enables local and emerging leaders to upskill while still delivering much-needed services within their communities. Content is delivered online through video tutorials and includes one half-day and two full-day workshops per term on site at the Rosebery Community House.
Improving regional access to education is an issue close to Dr Heath’s heart, having grown up in Zeehan herself and experiencing firsthand the struggle to succeed academically. She moved to Burnie and found support via the University Preparation Program – a program she went on to teach herself after achieving university qualifications in arts, education, human resources, and psychology.
Read more about Dr Heath’s inspirational personal journey in The Advocate newspaper.
“My personal goal is the same as the everyone else’s in this program – to let people on the West Coast know that if they want to study at university, they can,” Dr Heath said.
“And they can take that knowledge back into the community to build community capacity and resilience. If they cannot get to us, we are flexible enough to go to them, because we understand the difficulties of accessing good education from remote locations.”
(Photo): Adrian Cruse, Nick Arnott and Dr Anne Heath look over the work of students Dee Fraser and Lynn York (Brodie Weeding/The Advocate)