ACT News

Canberra Hospital becomes a training ground for Fijian nurses

For one particular group of Fijian nurses, Canberra Hospital is about as different as it gets to their usual working environment. 

Pailato Matanawa, Sereana Nakava, Shreesti Lal and Sereana Sanoko are visiting Australia for an 11-week training program to learn about care of neurosurgical patients, post-operative care, infection control and pain management. 

Fijian nurses, front, Pailato Matanawa and Lola Kurimalawai, and rear, Sereana Nakava, Shreesti Lal, and Sereana Sanoko.
Fijian nurses, front, Pailato Matanawa and Lola Kurimalawai, and rear, Sereana Nakava, Shreesti Lal, and Sereana Sanoko. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Mr Matanawa, who has been a nurse for 15 years and is from Suva, said Canberra's hospitals were unbelievably different to the environment he and his colleagues were used to working in. 

"The main aim is for us to come and learn as much as we can so we can go back home and teach our colleagues," he said. 

Mrs Nakava, a neurosurgery nurse, said she was very grateful to be taking part in the program.

"I'm looking forward to learning more about neurosurgery, the machines, the technology that is available here in Australia," she said. 


The group is being looked after by clinical facilitator and mentor Lola Kurimalawai, who is originally from Fiji and now lives in Canberra. 

ACT Chief Nurse Veronica Croome said the idea for the program came about several years ago as part of ACT Health's "desire to support healthcare workers in developing nations".

"We realised Fiji was a place where we could really make a difference ... and bring Fijian nurses over to Australia to learn a whole range of contemporary aspects of nursing," she said. 

Mrs Lal said the Fijian healthcare system was very different to Australia's.

"There's a lot of advancement in Australia. I'm hoping to learn a lot of things because we'll be in a lot of different departments, wards and theatres," she said. 

"In Fiji, I am a critical care nurse so it's very important to learn things and the skills here in comparison and to take it back and implement it."

Mrs Sanoko believes the training program will be extremely valuable. 

"We've been learning the importance of infection control, a holistic approach to our patients and I hope I will be able to go home and impart what I've learnt here," she said. 

Ms Croome hopes the program will be just a beginning.