INDIGENOUS female triplets from Greenmount are trailblazing a pathway to becoming certified physiotherapists after graduating from a new course at Curtin University.
Lauren, Roberta and Jacinta Ramirez-Smith (18) are among 13 graduates to complete the first indigenous pre-medicine and health sciences enabling course.
The course opens another door to tertiary education by providing an option for indigenous students who do not complete ATAR studies or do not achieve the score required for their study choice.
Roberta said a minimum ATAR score of 90 was a prerequisite to apply for a four-year course in physiotherapy at Curtin University.
“Because our ATAR scores weren’t high enough we found an alternative path, which we successfully completed,” she said.
“With my family’s health not always the best, we took it upon ourselves to study health care because we want to give back to our community.”
She said an interest in physio also stemmed from their shared passion for sport.
“We played a lot of tennis and basketball when we were younger, but now we focus on netball and we’re currently trialling for state league teams,” Roberta said.
Sporting ability runs in the family with the girls’ father Robert Smith a former WAFL player for Swans District.
The sisters attended school in Port Hedland, where Roberta said there was no permanent physiotherapist, and so they dream of opening their own physiotherapy practice.
Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Studies Professor Marion Kickett said she was delighted to celebrate the success of students on the new course.
“The graduates will be starting their undergraduate degrees next month in a range of health courses at Curtin including nursing, social work, medicine, physiotherapy and health, safety and environment,” she said.
“We are extremely proud of all the graduates.”
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Professor Jill Downie said the graduates demonstrated the need for pre-pathway options for indigenous students.
“These graduates are among the first set of students from Curtin, who will help contribute to the nationwide initiative to provide better health services to indigenous people by increasing the number of indigenous doctors and health professionals across the country,” she said.
The enabling course is available to people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent through the Centre for Aboriginal Studies, the Faculty of Health Sciences and Curtin Medical School.