Forging career pathways – a partnership between Holmesglen Institute and Monash Health

Lucy Whelan1

1Monash Health, Australia

Background: Asylum seekers and refugees experience high rates of unemployment and underemployment, and this has a profound impact on settlement outcomes. Employment is recognised as a significant social determinant of health. Organisations benefit from having a workforce that is reflective of the community that they serve. This is recognised as a valuable way to increase the community’s trust and confidence in the organisation, leading to higher levels of consumer engagement, participation and satisfaction.

Aim: To improve health career pathway opportunities for individuals of refugee or asylum seeker background.

Method: In 2016, Refugee Health at Monash Health won a Victorian Public Health Award – Excellence in Culturally And Linguistically Diverse Health, for their volunteer program. With this success, and the knowledge of a growing need for a larger Allied Health Assistant workforce, Monash Health approached Holmesglen Institute with the concept of building a co-funded scholarship program for individuals of asylum seeker or refugee status. The proposal included studying Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance to prepare and support the candidates to enter the health workforce.

In early 2017, Monash Health and Holmesglen agreed  to co-fund two students of refugee or asylum seeker status per intake  (tuition fees and uniform costs),  to study the Holmesglen Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance, with clinical placement at Monash Health and the provision of industry mentors.


  • Four applicants have successfully applied and received the described scholarships.
  • Anxiety, language and the ability to work part-time as well as commit to study have been evident challenges to date.

Future: Through the assistance of Holmesglen Institute, the Monash Health Foundation and unwavering advocacy of the Refugee Health program, the program is expanding to include other certificate level qualifications in health, cognisant of learnings to date.


Lucy Whelan is a Physiotherapist by background with a Masters Degree in Public Health and a career spanning over 15 years in Australia and the United Kingdom. She is currently forging the path for the Allied Health Assistant and Support workforce at Monash Health. She is passionate about quality driven improvement and appropriate governance for all. In order to align with their Allied Health colleagues and further expand and grow the roles of Allied Health Assistants, some large pieces of work are underway around Credentialing, Scope of Practice, Clinical Supervision, Professional Development, Referral/Delegation tools, Priority Tools and Students.

NAHC Conferences

2007, Hobart (7th NAHC)

2009, Canberra (8th NAHC)

2012, Canberra (9th NAHC)

2013, Brisbane (10th NAHC)

2015, Melbourne (11th NAHC)

2017, Sydney (12th NAHC)

2019, Brisbane (13th NAHC)

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