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 for 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 short course to add points to my entry score. I spent a week studying and then sit a few exams and an interview. I still didn’t think that I would get in, but I had an email to accept my enrolment in the course a few weeks later. ”
“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 be 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 four-year degree over seven 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 heard a few times ‘you’re never going to finish’ or ‘you won’t go back if you have time off’, but I knew that I was determined. ”
“By the 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.”