Inspirational Indigenous Leader

Wednesday, 1 July 2015
Jan Huggers doesn't necessarily want to be seen as a role model, but it's hard to avoid using that description.

As an enrolled nurse and Portland District Health's new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce officer, Ms Huggers hopes to inspire other Indigenous people into a career in health.

They would do well to emulate her successful career which has covered many facets of the health industry.

Ever since she was a young girl Ms Huggers wanted to be a nurse and she was quick to fulfil her dream after leaving school in 1977. She trained at the then Hamilton Base Hospital and worked in a variety of roles in health, education, Aboriginal health and the Closing the Gap initiative.

After an extensive break from the field, Ms Huggers completed her re-entry training in 2003 and has since worked in various nursing and educational roles at Windamara Aboriginal Cooperative, Dhauwurd Wurrung Elderly & Community Health Services and most recently at the Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative in Warrnambool.

Her new role mixes nursing and encouraging ...a perfect combination for Ms Huggers.

"I enjoy both roles and it’s nice to be able to blend them together," she said. "I've always enjoyed caring for people and I think it's good for the Aboriginal community to have someone working in an organisation such as PDH."

"We work as a team here but people see me as a focus for the Aboriginal community so that's something I hope will have a positive impact on ”.

Ms Huggers said she hoped the role would lead to more Indigenous people seeking a variety of careers in healthcare. "I encourage Aboriginal people to go for positions they are skilled at, or to try to develop the skills they need."

The role is also designed to help all staff members at PDH to better understand the needs of Indigenous patients and to help patients feel more comfortable in the hospital setting.

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