Psychologists and psychological services are in short supply in rural, remote and regional areas of Australia. As a regional university with strong community ties, Southern Cross is offering a new scholarship to address this problem.
The Psychologists for Community Scholarship aims to support budding psychologists in the University’s new Master of Professional Psychology program by providing $10,000 per annum for full-time students, or pro-rata for part-time study, to assist with course fees. Students from rural, remote and regional areas, culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, single parents or carers, and those impacted by financial disadvantage are invited to apply.
“We really want to encourage and support students from diverse backgrounds who wish to become registered psychologists by alleviating some of the financial obstacles,” Associate Professor of Psychology Gail Moloney said.
The Master of Professional Psychology is a new course to Southern Cross University in 2022, providing an additional year of academic study for graduates of the Bachelor of Psychological Science Honours degree program.
“These five years of study – the Bachelor of Psychological Science, Bachelor of Psychological Science with Honours and the new Masters of Professional Psychology combined – represent the academic pre-requisites for a further one-year internship external to Southern Cross and once successfully completed eligibility to sit the Psychology Board national exam to register as a Psychologist in Australia,” Associate Professor Moloney said.
Southern Cross University Psychology (Honours) graduate Dieudonne (Dious) Ininahazwe, said supporting psychology students from diverse cultural backgrounds is an important step for the industry and regional communities.
“When refugees or people from a different cultural or linguistic background seek psychological support, they often have to seek it from people who cannot relate to their experience. Because they don’t feel the support is going to actually meet their needs, it means most people don’t even bother to go or seek the support that they really, really need,” Dious said.
“At this stage I’m aware that I’m probably the only clinician in Coffs Harbour who is from Africa and qualified to work in the field, and the refugee population here is huge,” he said.
Originally from the small African nation of Burundi, Dious settled in Coffs Harbour with his family after spending thirteen years in a refugee camp in Tanzania. He chose to study psychology to assist children from diverse backgrounds and those who have experienced trauma. He now works with Life Without Barriers in Coffs Harbour, providing psychological intervention for children in care and psycho-education for foster carers.
He says the financial support of a scholarship for those completing their psychology qualification would come as a huge relief.
“For students with different backgrounds and limited social connection and support, just having that leg-up would mean everything. It’s not only going to help those who have the determination to do the course, but it will also encourage those who feel it’s not worth contemplating the idea because they think it’s not achievable,” he said.