This year's deserved recipient of the Access Community Health and Rural Women New Zealand Scholarship is Roberta Kaio from Ahipara in the Far North. Roberta spends her days working as a Primary Mental Health Coordinator for a mobile nursing team with Te Hiku Hauora and will be using the funds towards her Masters of Nursing with the University of Auckland.
'I'm so grateful to get this support', says Roberta, who has spent many years on self improvement achieving two post-graduate diplomas in health management and nursing. 'I started later in life, deciding to study while on a Single Parent Benefit after a traumatic experience. I remember the days as a single mother with two children knowing I had to do something to better for myself and for my children. I became passionate about supporting people with mental health and those that experience abuse and through a series of study and employment opportunities, was able to develop my nursing career further.'
Roberta who is of Ngati Kahu ki Whangaroa and Ngapuhi Nui Tonu is passionate about working in mental health, especially in rural areas, and promotes working in a holistic framework and within a cultural approach.
'I've been lucky with my career having spent 13 years working with all three Auckland based DHBs including with Community Mental Health Teams, Mason Clinic and an Non government agency. However after nearly 22 years living in Auckland, my husband (who is a supportive full time Dad to our five children) and I decided we wanted to reconnect with our whanau and community and enjoy a better lifestyle in the Far North as we realised that our wellbeing and family are paramount so now we have a better balance with time for fishing, being outdoors gathering kai and time on the beach together.'
'It's not easy mind you. I still spend a lot of time travelling to clients across the Far North and as part of my completing my Masters , I have to drive to Auckland from the far north once a month. However, seeing the difference the work I do makes to the community and individuals keeps me determined and passionate in my work, study and home life. '
'Being part of people's journey in a positive way and helping them get out the other end gives me satisfaction. When people with mental health issues get to a better place where they can be live a better quality of life, self empowerment, achievement, improve their self worth is the most satisfying outcome for me.'
Access and RWNZ are pleased to play a part in helping support Roberta's own journey towards delivering crucial health services to those in rural communities.
Access Chief Executive Officer, Simon Lipscombe says 'We are delighted to award this scholarship to Roberta, who has demonstrated, through her continual studies, an ongoing commitment to providing essential mental health services to those in her rural community. She represents the important connections between primary and secondary healthcare and what that means to the communities that rely on health providers. We are excited to see how Roberta's career progresses over the years and wish her well.'