Section 3: To Get Started
Research the schools you would like to contact for a RHSV at least one school term in advance. Your local state or territory government website should have a listing of schools. Choose a high school in an area of need, rather than a school that is easy to get to. Alternatively, contact the relevant RHC member in your role previously for a list of schools that your RHC has been involved with. Ongoing contact with these schools increases the chances they would welcome your RHC back for a RHSV.
NOTE: Do not feel disheartened if you have not heard back from any schools. They may be interested but chances are the right person has yet to receive your emails!
Discuss with the school which year group(s) they think is best to target at their school.
RHC contracts require completion of at least two RHSVs throughout the year. These could be conducted as separate visits or combined in one trip. Consider whether it will be a day trip or a few days to know what to advertise to your club members who want to volunteer, and accommodation, transport hire, meals and resources should be organised accordingly. These should be discussed with your RHC executive to confirm what the budget will allow for.
Phone or email the school to find out who to send an initial introductory letter to. Contact schools early in the school term to give them plenty of notice. Written communication in the form of emails and/ or formal letter (appendix 1) is generally more accessible to staff members if details need to be discussed with other internal staff, or permission notes for parents drafted. The Careers Advisor or Deputy Principal are often good contacts in the first instance, or they may direct you to a more appropriate person. Make a note of the names and roles of the contact people you have been speaking to and consider documenting this in a spreadsheet to help future RHSVs.
Schools are more reluctant to allow a group of university students into their classrooms if they have no idea what to expect. Send the introduction letter to multiple contacts, such as the school principal, careers advisor and year/stage coordinator. Your initial letter should include the following:
- Introduce who you are, and what the RHC is about
- Purpose of the RHSV
- Who will be running the RHSV?
- Proposed dates of visit
- Time involved in the RHSV
- Range of careers to be profiled.
- ask about what has been done in the region around health careers previously
- open requests for content to be covered during the RHSV
- does the school have certain protocols for visitors to adhere to when at the RHSV?
- tell them their roles, i.e. RHC organising it, school supports it (the less schools have to do, the better!)
- potential for excursion to nearby University or hospital (letters to external institutions in appendix 9)
- timelines and practical issues
- determine likely numbers of attendees
- any costs to schools?
- working with Children Check (if applicable, see appendix 4)
Correspondence with external organisations
Send a courtesy letter or email to the local university, local health professionals and the state Rural Workforce Agency (RWA).
- Let them know in which town you are planning your RHSV - they may have details of key contacts within that area.
- They may also be able to provide financial assistance, prizes or handouts (students love freebies!).
- University lecturers, local health professionals, or contacts from the state RWA may even like to participate in your visit.
- It may be possible to organise a tour of the local health centre or tertiary hospital (make sure to discuss logistics and legal requirements with the school).
Contact details, permission forms and example letters to external organisations (University/ TAFE/ Hospital/ RWA) can be found in appendix 9.