Danielle Dries is a Kaurna-Meyunna woman originally from South Australia who has spent most of her life in Canberra. She has been a physiotherapist two years now.
“I decided I wanted to be a physiotherapist in year 12 after injuring my knee playing soccer and spending a lot of time with a physio,” said Danielle. “I thought it was a pretty cool job, but when I finished year 12 the entry into Uni for physiotherapy was very high and I didn’t quite have the scores to get into the course.”
“So I contacted the Indigenous Centre at Charles Sturt University in Albury and they set me up on a small course to add points to my entry score. I had to spend a week studying and then sit a few exams and an interview. I still didn’t think that I would get in but a few weeks later I had an email to accept my enrolment in the course. “
“I was really excited about studying. I was 17 at the time and had to move away from home which was exciting but a bit daunting at the same time,” said Danielle. “When I got there it was challenging adjusting to being completely independent – having to do all my study but then also shop and cook for myself. Not that I hadn’t done that before but not for every night of the week!”
“At the start it was all new and exciting, great to have a bit more freedom and I was coping pretty well. But in my second and third years I did start to miss home and my family,” said Danielle. “It was at the end of my second year my Dad passed away suddenly and everything seemed impossible.”
”At one stage I was ready to drop out. I went to see the head of the physiotherapy school but luckily she talked me through it and gave me other options.” said Danielle. “Due to a number of personal challenges and injuries I ended up completing the 4 year degree over 7 years. But I got there!”
“My family were all very proud of what I had achieved and where I was going. It took me a bit longer to finish my degree so I did hear a few times ‘you’re never going to finish’ or ‘you won’t go back if you have time off’ but I knew myself that I was determined. “
“By fourth year I was no longer just stuck in lecture rooms, but out there actually doing the practical stuff. I did really well on all of my clinical placements which gave me confidence that just because I struggled a bit through Uni didn’t mean I wasn’t going to be a good practitioner.”
Danielle completed her degree in 2011 and started working. “I love the work environment and the people you get to work with as a physio. I have done most of my work in hospitals, being part of a bigger team of health professionals all working together. I am still continuing to learn all the time which make the job really interesting and there is lots of support out there when things are new or a bit more challenging” said Danielle.
“I have always loved the country and I have always seen myself working in a regional, rural or remote community and promoting Indigenous health, in particular preventative health. I also hope to encourage more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to study and work in areas of allied health.”
“Being a physiotherapist is a great career, there are so many different areas you can work in and chances are you will love at least one. It can be very flexible or time consuming depending on what you want to achieve. There are many people out there that can offer you advice and support, you just have to ask.”