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Bria Cusack: Student and Trainee of the Year

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Young Indigenous woman in dark blue uniform stands holding a dentist drill behind a smiling man wearing sunglasses and lying back in a dentist chair.
Dental assistant Bria Cusack with Michael Gleadow, CEO of Connect ‘n’ Grow. (Photo courtesy of Connect ‘n’ Grow.)
23 Oct 2017

Bria Cusack is on a path to success because of hard work and sacrifice.

The sixteen-year-old dental assistant from Townsville recently won two Queensland Government awards in the region of North Queensland. She is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year and School-based Apprentice or Trainee of the Year.

‘I was crying,’ Bria said.

‘It was very overwhelming; however I felt very proud. I was so happy to see that the pathway into a traineeship, and all the hard work, had paid off.’

Hard work is still required as she completes a Certificate III in Dental Assisting. She has already completed a Certificate II in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care.

Bria spends 4 days a week at Kirwan State High School and 2 more days, including Saturday, working for Project Outback Dental (POD), a dental service to rural and outback Queensland.

Her duties include chairside assistance, sterilization, interacting with clients, reception and administration.

Young Indigenous woman in black dress holds two hexagonal shaped, glass awards in front of a large colourful poster with a woman in floral dress in the background.
Dual award winner Bria Cusack is passionate about improving oral health in Indigenous communities. (Photo courtesy of Connect n' Grow.)

So where does the energy come from?

‘I get inspiration from my family and parents who are very hard workers,’ Bria said.

‘They are very proud of what I am doing. I also get inspiration from my co-workers who are all amazing in their jobs and love doing what they do.’

Bria mainly works in Townsville where POD has a surgery within the Aboriginal and Islanders Health Services clinic, providing dental assistance to Indigenous community members.

‘I love helping my community and making a difference. I have been told I am a fast learner. I have learned that I am very passionate about dentistry and it is the field I want to work in and gain further education in.’

She has set her sights on becoming a dentist and dedicating her acquired skills to improving dental health in Indigenous communities.

‘In 2016 I was given the opportunity to attend a Griffith University Camp on the Gold Coast through Connect n Grow. This gave me insight into all the different avenues of health, particularly the dental field which I loved.’

Bria said she wants to be a role model for her younger brothers and sisters. Actually, she is a role model for all of us.

Find out more

Getting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth into education and onto a pathway to a successful career is a major priority of the Australian Government.

Connect’n’Grow was provided with seed funding over several years from the Australian Government to develop the school based Indigenous Health programmes which they now deliver as a Registered Training Organisation.

They deliver health training to low socioeconomic status students from remote and very remote communities across Northern Australia.