Kaiwhakamana/Team Lead Navigator, AWHI Healthy Homes Initiative, South Seas Healthcare Trust
Bachelor of Health Science in Case Management
She loves making a difference to people in need, says Caroline Sipili who completed a Bachelor of Health Science in Case Management and now works for the South Seas Healthcare Trust’s AWHI Healthy Homes Initiative.
“Our goal is to reduce the incidence of housing-related illness for whānau living in cold, damp, and unhealthy homes in the wider Counties Manukau area.
“There’s a lot of potential in our community, and when I step in and alleviate the stress for a whānau to meet their health and personal goals I can physically see them shift from a helpless state to being hopeful again. That’s what I enjoy the most about my work.”
Watching her mother try to navigate the different support systems in New Zealand is what first inspired Caroline to be the voice for people in need.
“My mother migrated from Samoa to Aotearoa in the 1980s and went straight into the workforce with little to no English. Growing up, it frustrated me when people turned her away in times of need without hearing her story. As soon as I was able to comprehend situations, I spoke out on her behalf to ensure that our family wasn’t missing out on healthcare or assistance for school supplies. My mother’s perseverance and heart inspired me to help others in need.”
A holistic approach to health
In her role now, Caroline frequently draws on the skills she developed throughout her studies at AUT.
“AUT provided a degree that recognised the wellbeing of a person through a holistic approach. That aligned well with my values while still embracing my Pacific culture. During my studies, we often practised critical thinking in different case studies provided by our lecturers. I now apply these critical thinking skills to enable vulnerable whānau to live in healthier and warmer homes, and gain access to health and social services that will meet their needs.”
She still fondly remembers her time at university, says Caroline who graduated from AUT in mid-2020.
“One of the highlights for me was being In selected for the Shadow a Leader programme in 2018. I was lucky enough to shadow John MacDonald, the head of mission at Life Wise. That was an exciting and eye-opening experience, and it really ignited my passion to work with people.
“My workplace experience with South Seas Healthcare Trust was another awesome highlight for me. It enabled me to work within my own Pacific community and apply all the skills and knowledge from the courses I had studied. As a result, the organisation recognised my capabilities and offered me a permanent role after I graduated.”
Advice for other students
Caroline’s advice for other students is simple: speak up.
“My advice is to be bold and ask questions if you’re feeling unsure or uncomfortable. Whether it has to do with an assessment question or you can’t meet a deadline due to personal challenges, speak up. AUT will guide you in the best possible way so you don’t feel the need to give up or lose your passion. When you go well with your studies, your career path will fall into place.”
She knows what she is talking about.
“Initially, I carried a lot of self-doubt but Dr Caroline Stretton, one of my lecturers, really believed in me. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with my degree at first but she made an effort to arrange a placement in my Pacific community at South Seas Healthcare Trust as she believed I had skills and qualities that will be well suited for this role.”