Rural lifestyle suits Novita’s Jennifer Custance
A work experience placement in Broken Hill last year for final year Speech Pathology student Jennifer Custance has led to a permanent opportunity at Novita to support kids and families in the Broken Hill region.
22-year-old Jennifer studied the four-year Bachelor of Speech Pathology course at Flinders University and found her way to Broken Hill for nine weeks last year through the Broken Hill University’s Department of Rural Health placement program.
Jennifer has experience working with kids in both schools and as outpatients, particularly in areas such as speech, language, and phonological awareness therapy. She also has an interest in traumatic brain injury and cognition.
As a Speech Pathologist, Jennifer works with people who have difficulty speaking and swallowing.
“Communication is vital skill as it gives us the ability to express ourselves and affect what is happening around us, as well as be in relationships with others. It encompasses a wide range of skills such as speaking, listening, understanding, reading, writing and social skills,” she said.
“Eating is also an important social activity, and difficulty eating or drinking can affect our physical wellbeing.”
Jennifer said moving to Broken Hill was a big change for her.
“I had never lived away from home before,” she said. “I had to cook my own food, and I had to manage without a car. It was definitely a period of growth for me. But I really found myself liking the rural lifestyle and I liked the community feel of Broken Hill.”
“Everyone here seems to be on the same page for supporting kids in their development.”
Jennifer says all the Novita staff she has met in Adelaide as well as the new Broken Hill team has been very supportive and open when answering the many questions she has been asking.
“We’re all still learning and everyone is very open to new ideas. Even during the orientation period I was being asked about my ideas for doing things better,” she says.
“Setting up the new office here in Broken Hill has been a big thing, and everyone has been very understanding. We’re trying to do our best in terms of developing new services here, and delivering those services in the best way.”
While Jennifer is only just settling into Broken Hill and her new job, she says she’s already thinking about getting involved in her new community.
“That is really important. You’re in a new place so you have to take the initiative and put yourself out there and make links with the community and make new friends,” says Jennifer.
“I’m hoping to join a sport. I’ve played netball in the past, and I’ve also heard that women’s footy is pretty strong here in Broken Hill, and I know someone who plays hockey – so they are my sporting options.”
Jennifer says she’s looking forward to gaining experience in the field, and in the long term is keen to upskill and maybe even consider doing a teaching degree.
“I can definitely see myself working in rural and regional communities for the long term, and I feel like doing a teaching degree would be an awesome way to learn more about literacy. I think in the future I would really love to help with capacity building for countries that don’t have a Speech Pathology course yet.”