With a passion for community and her sights set on being a healthcare worker in regional areas in the future, proud Gunditjmara and Wiradjuri woman and Grammarian Phoebe Jackson (Class of 2020) is making a difference for the health of others.
Days at Caulfield Grammar
Moving to Caulfield Campus in 2019, Phoebe jumped straight into life in the boarding house. She found her feet as a role model for the Indigenous kids living alongside her as boarders. She became passionate about contributing to and speaking at Reconciliation assemblies, aiming to boost the confidence of her fellow peers, and simultaneously also herself. These initiatives that pushed her outside her comfort zone developed a unique sense of confidence for Phoebe:
“I have to step up and do this so that I can show them that you can come from your small country town and you can speak in front of 200 kids. It really helped my confidence strive, especially when I had to sit up there and talk in front of everyone”.
Working with the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service
After finishing Year 12, Phoebe jumped straight into the deep end of full-time tertiary study at Monash University, pursuing nursing and midwifery. Finding the experience overwhelming, surrounded by an influx of new environments and people, Phoebe changed directions and began working with the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHs).
Phoebe is now completing her Certificate 3 in Primary Aboriginal Health Care to be an Aboriginal health care worker, with her sights set on eventually working as a midwife.
Initially, COVID-19 and Melbourne’s lockdowns brought a different approach to Phoebe’s work. As isolation meant the team couldn’t do any community engagement activities, Phoebe would work with VAHs to drop off food baskets and RAT tests to any First Peoples in metropolitan Melbourne who had COVID and were unable to work.
Now in a post-lockdown environment, Phoebe’s work sees her spend time with the Tackling Indigenous Smoking unit (TIS). She devotes her time to being out with the community, being the face of VAHs and putting their logo out there. With her team making the VAHs logo increasingly visible, she engages with the community and loves hearing their stories:
“Seeing people go through their smoking journey, you would see people that don’t smoke say ‘quitting smoking’s easy, it’s not that hard’, but seeing people actually sacrifice things to not smoke is really good being out in the community”.
Seeing others proud of themselves and their efforts in their smoking journeys is incredibly heart-warming and such a special part of the job for Phoebe.
Her work is predominantly focused on community engagement, having fulfilling conversations with individuals about their personal smoking journeys. These conversations may seem small; however, they have a huge, lasting impact – they spark those individuals to continue having meaningful conversations with others, proving that one conversation truly can have a snowball effect:
“What we’re talking about, it sparks a conversation for them to go back to their family to talk about it, and then they come to us and then it’s a rolling ball. All we need to say is one little thing and that can change their whole mindset towards smoking”.
Phoebe’s passion for midwifery stems from time spent with her mum. Phoebe’s mum would work for the Womens’ Hospital, participating in training videos as an Indigenous patient having a baby. She fondly remembers travelling to various regional areas such as Warrnambool, Ballarat and Bendigo. This time spent watching her mum work with midwives and nurses sparked her passion to want to deliver babies.
In a few years’ time, Phoebe sees herself working in a remote community as a midwife, perhaps somewhere in the Northern Territory and on a FIFO schedule.
No doubt will Phoebe continue to make a positive impact on the communities she is a part of.
Keeping reading about our Young Alumni Tell Their Stories Month ambassadors with our profile on Claire Tucker-Morrison (Class of 2016), a Law and Global Studies graduate with a passion for equality advocacy.
This profile was written as part of our Young Alumni Tell Their Stories Month – a month of content (including a social media takeover) by young alumni for young alumni. This initiative forms part of our broader Young Alumni Ambassador Program (YAAP).