Studying her Master of Social Work at the University of Tasmania in Launceston, Tamara Collinson can’t wait to graduate and get to work helping people in the education and community sectors.
She didn’t take a straight line towards this career goal, though. But she credits the University’s excellent course offerings and an internship through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment program for helping her focus clearly on the future she really wants.
Born and raised in Adelaide, Tamara’s ambition all through high school was to become a Japanese interpreter.
“I studied Japanese all the way through high school and then studied a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Japanese and Linguistics at the University of South Australia,” she said.
“I even went to Japan during my studies, which was awesome. But by the time I got to the end of my degree I realised the passion just wasn’t there anymore. It wasn’t the career I wanted.”
After graduating, Tamara tried something different.
An Aboriginal woman, Tamara’s mob is from the Northern Territory: Southern Arrernte from the Pertame Clan on her mother’s side, and Jawoyn from Pine Creek from her dad’s side.
So after completing her Arts degree she qualified to be part of the University of South Australia’s Aboriginal Graduate Program, which involved a two-year employment opportunity as a project officer with different parts of the university.
She enjoyed project-based work so much that she started looking at a new career path in Social Work. So, when she relocated to her fiance’s home town of Launceston in 2021, she enrolled in a Master of Social Work at the University of Tasmania.
"I was doing some research into what I could do next and found a strong link between project work and community development and social work," she said. "It aligned really well with my intrests".
“And when I saw that the University of Tasmania offered the Master of Social Work, I didn’t even consider any other options. I liked the look of the course and all the subjects, so I applied and was accepted.”
And during her studies she heard about the University’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Employment Program, which offers paid internship opportunities for Indigenous students, primarily in various areas of the University itself.
Funded through the Indigenous Student Success Program (ISSP), the program enables exploration of potential future employment pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, and increases the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in employment at the University.
During her eight-week placement, Tamara worked mainly with the University’s People and Wellbeing team, researching graduate programs, doing administrative work, and even created her own Aboriginal employment newsletter which was so successful it is still being published regularly.
“I learned a lot of useful skills for my future career and it also gave me an opportunity to learn more about the University and the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. I got to go to cultural days with People and Wellbeing and days on Country.
"I learned a lot of useful skills for my future career and it also gave me an opportunity to learn more about the University and the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. I got to go to cultural days with People and Wellbeing and days on Country."
“Not being from here, it was really valuable having that exposure to Tasmanian Aboriginal culture.”
After graduating, Tamara hopes to find a Social Work job in the education sector and, looking further into the future, she eventually hopes to go to the Northern Territory to work with remote Aboriginal communities .
“Getting to go there and be on Country is important to me. Because I grew up in South Australia, I’ve heard the stories that my family members have passed down but it’s not the same as actually being there”
Image: Tamara Collinson