Rising allied health stars receive annual CPA-funded scholarship

Rising allied health stars receive annual CPA-funded scholarship
Posted on Thu 12 May 2022

The Gabby Robberds Scholarship is awarded annually by Cerebral Palsy Alliance to two Allied Health students at the University of Canberra (UC) who demonstrate academic and philanthropic promise with a particular passion for helping children with disabilities.

Diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was born, Gabby Robberds passed away in 2010 when she was just two years old. Gabby’s unparalleled connection with her physiotherapist and occupational therapist now inspires future health professionals in the disability sector

This year the Scholarship has been awarded to two UC health students as they embark on their final placement with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

For both recipients, it was their involvement in sport and love of volunteering that led them to study at the University’s Faculty of Health

Master of Physiotherapy student Beth Chaffers volunteered as an adaptive snow sports guide, where she helped kids with disabilities participate.

“It really set me on a path towards pursuing a career in physiotherapy.I saw that being able to facilitate independence through movement was very important to optimise the health and wellbeing of individuals with a cerebral palsy diagnosis,” she said.

Bachelor of Occupational Therapy student Josie Gillham was a competitive swimmer growing up in regional New South Wales who volunteered to teach kids with disabilities to swim.

“I became passionate about making sure there were equal opportunities,” she said.

The role a therapist plays in the life of someone with CP not only enhances their physical ability, but contributes immensely to their emotional and mental well-being, something that was evident in Gabby's relationship with her therapists.

Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Professor Michelle Lincoln says this year’s scholarship placements come at a time where the disability sector is grappling with a workforce shortage.

“Now more than ever, the disability sector needs really well qualified and experienced OTs and physios. Scholarships like this encourage more students to take up the challenges and rewards of working with people with disabilities.”

She added that the University of Canberra is very grateful to the CPA, a long-term supporter of the education of allied health students at the University.

Scholarships like this encourage more students to take up the challenges and rewards of working with people with disabilities

“I’m super excited about doing a placement with them and seeing how OTs work in a not-for-profit organisation to help families and children with disabilities. I feel extremely lucky to be working towards a degree in occupational therapy and working in a profession that is centred around supporting people of all different abilities and circumstances,” Ms Gillham said.

“I think the value I can get out of my placement in terms of practical application and the knowledge and skills, is just going to be amazing for me,” Ms Chaffers said.

Thanks to this Scholarship, the legacy of Gabby Robberds is able to live on.

Head to the University of Canberra website to read more about the story behind the scholarship.

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