Launch of resilience-building program aims to help regional students connect with local community

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

An initiative to better equip nurses and teachers entering their professions launches today, 19 October.

The name of the University of New England Tamworth’s program represents its aim to create resilient and powerful transformation in its participants.  RaPT will provide tailored support for UNE teaching and nursing students throughout their studies, while also building a sense of community intended to support graduates when they leave university and head into the workforce.

“Teachers and nurses are the largest cohorts of students studying at UNE from the Tamworth region,” said UNE Tamworth and Regions Senior Manager, Catherine Lees.

“These are tough but absolutely essential professions. We don’t have enough teachers and nurses entering these fields, and meanwhile we are losing many of those already in the workforce because they are burned out by the conditions they encounter.”

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These issues, says Ms Lees, are especially acute in regional areas.

“We want students who invest in a UNE education to stay here in the regions, and to flourish in their professions. That’s why we developed the RaPT program.”

RaPT was created in consultation with UNE academics, industry professionals and the Tamworth community. It will provide UNE Tamworth students with personalised academic support and a social infrastructure of mentors that leverage the expertise of retired professionals from all walks of life.

RaPT will offer UNE students a range of support, including:

  • Academic skills support (F2F 1:1 support provided or Academic Skills Workshops on Essay Writing, Time Management – that will run throughout the trimester)
  • Peer-to-peer support
  • Mentoring support
  • Industry workshops & social mixers

By featuring keynote speakers and mentors from relevant industry sectors, Ms Lees told The Bursar the program will help UNE students access both professional learning and development opportunities, as well as offer vital well-being and resiliency support.

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Although the initiative will initially target nursing and teaching UNE students who reside in Tamworth, Gunnedah & Quirindi, Ms Lees says “we hope to eventually expand this model to comprehensively support UNE students across all faculties”.

“RaPT is built on the belief that by investing in our students and building a local learning community around them, they are more likely to stay in their professions and stay local,” she says.

 Real-world connections and insights

Partnerships with local professionals and community groups will, she says, help students gain invaluable insights and professional exposure in education and healthcare fields.

“Nurturing a supportive community that extends beyond the UNE online learning experience, prioritising the well-being of students and their readiness for the educational journey and future professional roles in our region” are some of the other benefits RaPT aims to deliver, with “networking opportunities, practical skill development, and a sense of belonging within the education and nursing community” all helping contribute to a robust regional workforce.

“We know from student feedback that Tamworth students’ primary need is for mentorship and connection,” says UNE’s Director, Place Based Education and Research, Associate Professor Melanie Fillios.

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“RaPT will provide a supportive network that will both help keep students in study and better prepare them for the workforce. This is a model we would eventually like to extend to all Tamworth regional students.”

The RaPT initiative has been welcomed by Lisa McMahon, manager of Projects Growth & Prosperity within Tamworth Regional Council.

“It is about building relationships that help independent access to advice, and a genuine connection to the local community,” Ms McMahon said.

“This UNE initiative is an exciting opportunity to put these ideas into practice for our region’s new teachers and nurses. It addresses a real need and supports local residents to help shape the success of our region.”

RaPT launches at UNE Tamworth, 24 Fitzroy St, Tamworth at 5pm today – Thursday 19 October.

The event is open to all, but Ms Lees says conversations with potential stakeholders – UNE and TAFE students, and prospective mentors and businesses who may be interested in supporting the program -are especially welcome.

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The event’s keynote address, Unbreakable Spirits: Finding the Path to Excellence, will be delivered by Tommy Pulleine and Melissa Harries of Mindset Training. They will delve into the power of resilience, how to overcome challenges, adapt to change, and thrive in adversity.

“Sticking at it for the long haul in professions like nursing and education takes grit,” Ms Lees says. “RaPT aims to provide the wrap-around support necessary to cultivate that grit.”

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]