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Kiribati to Australia via Griffith

Kiribati to Australia via Griffith

Graduating with a university degree is a great milestone for anyone. But it is even greater for someone who does it after they have left their home for a foreign country, away from their communal support.

Graduating this December were 25 students from the Pacific nation of Kiribati. Amongst them were Bachelor of Nursing students Tamwia Bootii and Koriri Enari.

Kiribati is a three hour flight north from Fiji. The country comprises 32 low-lying atolls and one raised coral island. On average, the land is just two metres above sea level. As a result, Kiribati is under major threat of rising sea levels due to climate change.

Tamwia and Koriri know only too well the issues that their country is facing. Along with climate change, rapid population growth and youth unemployment are also a challenge for the country’s people. But as two out of 82 successful applicants to the Griffith Nursing program (out of a total 200 who applied), Tamwia and Koriri have been very grateful for the chance to come to Australia on full scholarships funded by the Australian Government.

The program involves training I-Kiribati so they gain internationally-recognised qualifications and become more competitive in the international labour market. “Employment opportunities are pretty scarce where I come from,” says Tamwia. “But when I heard about the program I knew it would be a good opportunity to start a career and also benefit my family back home. My mum and dad were not keen at first as they knew how much they would miss me but they also knew that it was an offer not to be refused. I am hoping that I may be able to eventually help my younger brother to get out here as well.”

“It was tough when I first arrived in Australia as I struggled with the language,” says Koriri, another high achieving i-Kiribati who turned down a scholarship to Fiji National University in order to attend Griffith. “Learning complex nursing technicalities in a foreign language was a challenge to me, but I got through. I have loved the hospital placements we have been given on the degree, and loved meeting patients from all different cultures and backgrounds. Now I am really keen to stay in the Logan area and look for work as a surgical nurse.” Meanwhile Tamwia says he is interested in looking for intensive care nursing positions in either a rural or remote area. “I want to experience first-hand, the conditions in a region such as Australia’s outback.“These 25 I-Kiribati youth are now ready to graduate and enter the workforce – a remarkable journey and achievement from their arrival date in Brisbane when they experienced lifts, escalators, air conditioning and expressways for the very first time!”said Rebecca Keogh, Manager of the International Business Development Unit at Griffith. For more information please visit


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