Steps to success
Griffith is committed to supporting students from diverse backgrounds including young people who have been in kinship or foster care and may need additional support to fulfil their study goals. We work with care leavers to encourage them towards tertiary study and once enrolled to connect with people and services for study success.
Support at Griffith
We have a range of strategies to support students once enrolled including:
- Regular contact with our Student Equity Outreach Officers provide support and referral services such as mentoring@Griffith, learning services, counselling, and pastoral care
- First-in-Family resources
- Links to external organisations. We work with a range of community groups who specialise in supporting care-leavers including:
Vicky* and her sister where put in care in primary school as a result of physical abuse from their parents. This is Vicky’s story about coming to uni. The full story appears in Griffiti magazine.
I never told anyone at school I was in foster care. At my Year 7 graduation I said my parents had to work and weren’t able to be there to see me pick up my academic awards. In fact, the police were stationed outside the school to make sure they didn’t try to get in.
My sister and I were always kept together in all of the 12 homes we were placed. We were well behaved kids but housing was difficult because we wanted to stay at the same school. We had supervised visits with mum and dad but they were never allowed to know where we were living.
At school I felt really lost and a lot of insecurities emerged. School gave me something to focus on and staying at the same school for all my schooling was the only stability in my life. Concentrating on keeping my reputation as a high achieving student gave me no time to think about what I’d rather shut out.
I was planning to leave school and do an apprenticeship in hairdressing. Then at one of my regular meetings with the guidance officer she said, ‘You are getting good grades and I think you have the potential to go to uni.’
When the Griffith Uni-Reach team came to our school I signed up to find out what uni was all about and how to get there.
I studied a Certificate III in Children’s Services at school and on the basis of this received guaranteed admission into Griffith University, Logan campus. My first preference was to study Midwifery but this is a very popular choice and you needed to have very high results. I was accepted into the Nursing degree and my guidance officer told me I could swap into Midwifery at the end of my first year at university.
My first semester was really, really hard. I passed but decided it was too difficult and left for three years. However, I didn’t un-enrol properly from my subjects which meant I recorded fail grades. This has affected my grade point average so although I’ve now been getting distinctions and am in my final semester, my GPA looks like I’m just passing.
I got a job in a call centre and was soon promoted to team leader. After three years they asked me to go and train staff overseas. When I came back they made me redundant so I decided I would go back to uni. Working gave me the maturity, confidence and leadership skills I needed to tackle uni again.
In my nursing degree I’ve had practicum experiences in lots of nursing areas while at uni but what I really love is Accident & Emergency (A&E). I love the pace, the variety of presentations and the fact you are always on your feet working.
As well as my clinical skills I think my life experiences have made me less likely to judge people and situations. I’m empathetic and have an ability to comfort people – definitely attributes for a nurse!
I still can’t fathom the years of abuse; I was so vulnerable. I’ve forgiven my mum because she is so remorseful but my dad shifts all responsibility and blames my mum’s mental health for everything that happened. He has never said sorry.
People ask how I came out of it so well but I have my bad days when it feels like a constant battle. If I’m not keeping busy I’m thinking. It’s a bad day when I’m not busy.
I would tell other kids in my situation ‘things do get better, life is not nearly as tough as it was back then’.
*The name Vicky has been used to protect the identity of the student in this story.
Need more information?
Out of Home Care (OOHC) Advice, support or legal assistance
YFS specialise in providing information, advice and representation for clients 10-25 years of age who need help with somewhere to live or criminal law matters.
yfs.org.au (07) 3826 1500
Going to TAFE or Uni
The ‘What’s Next OOHC Fund’ assists young people who have been in Queensland State Care by reducing the financial barrier to their participation in vocational education and training (VET). It provides young people with career and training information to support them to make good decisions about learning and employment pathways.
The Care2Achieve Scholarship is for young women moving out of state care in Queensland and planning to undertake higher education studies. The value of the scholarship is up to $3,500 per annum, depending on the institution and course type.
Uni-Start Equity Scholarship: Awarded to students applying to Griffith University who have experienced financial hardship and/ or education disadvantage that has impacted on their ability to achieve their full potential. griffith.edu.au/scholarships
National Council of Women Qld bursary offers a range of bursaries for women studying in a variety of study areas and circumstances.
Need somewhere to live while you study at Griffith?
Griffith University campuses at Nathan, Mt Gravatt and Gold Coast have residential colleges with a range of room options and are also open to students studying at South Bank and Logan. Accommodation at the Gold Coast campus is privately run by Griffith University Village.
Free counselling and other support while at Griffith University?
Griffith University offers students a range of helpful services from counselling and pastoral care, to health services and assistance for students with disabilities. These services are confidential, professional and offered at no cost to students.