A nationally lauded program developed by Curtin is helping to change lives in China, Ukraine, India and South Africa.
Go Global – which has won an Australian Learning and Teaching Council award – gives final year social work, occupational therapy, speech pathology, physiotherapy and pharmacy students the opportunity to contribute to humanitarian health services overseas.
“It gives students the chance to challenge their own cultural perceptions and see how they fit into the world,” said Trevor Goddard, former director and founder of the program.
The first seeds were planted when Mr Goddard travelled to China on a study grant.
Working as an occupational therapist at the Shanghai Children’s Rehabilitation Centre, he quickly realised the potential benefits of involving his students in similar work, and the reciprocal value for the centre.
More than 20 staff from Curtin’s Faculty of Health Sciences now work on the progam.
Mr Goddard said the program gave students a broader cultural context, exposing them to new life and work experiences.
“The Go Global program attends to all those ‘soft skills’ commonly hidden in graduate attributes, it enhances global citizenship, impacts on cross-cultural knowledge, develops complex professional skills, and helps shape an all-round work-ready health graduate,” he said.
Benefits for host institutions include students working alongside local staff to provide vital services for people living with AIDS, tuberculosis, disability or mental illness.
“As part of the program, students have developed fundraising strategies, helped plan and build a therapeutic playground, and worked alongside NGOs to deliver care for children at risk,” Mr Goddard said.
While proud of the program’s achievements, Mr Goddard recognised the efforts made on the ground by local people.
“We should never lose sight of the people in China, Ukraine, India and South Africa who have graciously allowed our students to be a part of their lives,” he said.
“It is a privilege to go and work with them.”