Two University of Tasmania staff members have been selected to study in Melbourne and London as part of a national Indigenous Leadership Fellows Program.
Jacob Prehn and Jacinta Vanderfeen are part of a group of 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recipients of the 2019 fellowship, offered through the University of Melbourne – Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health.
A former social worker and Aboriginal health worker, Mr Prehn has been a student at the University of Tasmania for the past decade and a staff member since 2016, working as an Aboriginal research and leadership project officer.
He is currently completing his PhD focusing on Aboriginal men’s health.
“Aboriginal men as a group have the worst health in the country yet it’s really challenging to access support for programs to improve this,” he said.
“I used to run an Aboriginal men’s group in Tasmania and was very interested in how I could improve Aboriginal men’s health, which led me to this field of research.”
Mr Prehn’s research involves retrospective interviews around the benefits of bush adventure therapy which takes Aboriginal men out on country and connects them to cultural activities as well as camping, abseiling, kayaking and fishing.
Mr Prehn said receiving the Poche Centre Fellowship was a fantastic opportunity.
“I feel very fortunate I’ve got this opportunity to be able to go to Kings College and to be able to study at Oxford University,” he said.
“I hope to gain more leadership skills from the experience specifically around Aboriginal Men’s Health.
“We will also get to meet some very prominent social workers, sociologists and other participants so it will be a great opportunity to develop some good networks.”
Jacinta Vanderfeen is a University of Tasmania Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Equity and Diversity Co-ordinator and has been employed at the University of Tasmania for the past seven years.
She has a Bachelor of Behavioural Science and is currently completing her Masters of Research investigating the lived experiences of Aboriginal people in relation to mainstream media portrayals; and the inference of power within this communication.
Mrs Vanderfeen, who is passionate about mental health awareness and social justice advocacy said acceptance into the Poche program was a fantastic opportunity.
“Being accepted into the Poche Leadership Fellows Program has been a huge honour and privilege for me,” she said.
“I hope to gain the opportunity to enhance my leadership capacity through collaborating with a range of national and international field professionals and academic networks. Broadening my learnings through this unique experience will assist in improving and complimenting my skills as a more effective employee and community leader.”
The Poche Fellows Leadership Program is designed for Indigenous early career staff with a health focus in academic, policy, clinical or research roles in higher education institutions, government, health delivery and community sectors and aims to build expertise and leadership, as well as influence change for Indigenous people.