Amy Ella, Master of Clinical Exercise Physiology student.
Amy Ella, Master of Clinical Exercise Physiology student.

Northern Rivers postgraduates master their next move

After years of working as a first responder on the ski fields of Canada, Beau Halligan decided to move to Lismore in the Northern Rivers to pursue studies in Osteopathic Medicine at Southern Cross University.

Now he is one of hundreds of postgraduate students who will graduate from Southern Cross in March, joining a growing number of alumni who are building their professional futures in the regions.

Even before wrapping up his Master of Osteopathic Medicine studies, Beau secured full-time work in Coffs Harbour at Coffs Coast Osteopathy, where he will begin working this month when he moves to Bellingen to be closer to family.

“I wanted to have a skill that I could use to really help people, and I’ve always been drawn to the medical field,” Beau said.

“After spending time on Vancouver Island as a medic on the ski fields I was ready for a new chapter in life. A friend who was studying Osteopathy recommended it and so I moved to Lismore to pursue the Bachelor of Clinical Sciences followed by the Masters degree to become an Osteopath through Southern Cross University.

Beau Halligan graduated from the Master of Osteopathy in 2021 and secured a full time role with Coffs Coast Osteopathy.
Beau Halligan graduated from the Master of Osteopathy in 2021 and secured a full time role with Coffs Coast Osteopathy.

“I really enjoyed transitioning from the academic aspects in class to the hands-on clinical practice both on placements in the Northern Rivers community and at Southern Cross University Health Clinic on campus, and we’ve had such good clinic supervisors - local practitioners who’ve trained us in clinic.”

Beau and his wife Kiva have lived in Lismore, Suffolk Park and Brunswick Heads during their study, running their own coffee business at the burgeoning festival scene and at markets and events, enjoying the Northern Rivers lifestyle alongside their studies.

“I had a really great experience at Southern Cross University, and even with the interesting challenges of COVID, the University was able to adapt and I managed to complete my final year of study full-time,” he said.

“I’m stoked to be done and starting work as a full-time osteopath.”

The Northern Rivers had an estimated population of more than 300,000 people in 2019 according to data from Regional Development Australia Northern Rivers/Remplan.

Healthcare and Social Assistance remains the biggest employer by numbers in the region, with the construction sector contributing the highest dollar value to the economic output of the area.

The data also shows that the biggest occupational cohort is professionals who hold a degree or advanced diploma, a category that grew 8 per cent between the 2011 and 2016 censuses.

Osteopathy is just one of the professional sectors where Southern Cross graduates are finding a buoyant local job market.

“The Northern Rivers is one of only three regions where you can study Osteopathy in Australia,” said Lismore-based Bimbi Gray, a practising osteopath and coordinator of the Osteopathy program at Southern Cross.

“There is also a lot of awareness about the benefits of osteopathy in the community – the vast majority of students have jobs lined up before they graduate.

“We’re taking our services to Bourke and Brewarrina this year with a senior student clinic because as a discipline we have much to offer in other regional areas where it’s difficult to access healthcare services.”

Southern Cross graduates in other health disciplines are likewise keen to consolidate their training with a career in the regions.

Pottsville mother-of-five Amy Ella will shortly be graduating with her Master of Clinical Exercise Physiology from Southern Cross University.

Her passion for helping people was the motivation to pursue further study and become an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, when her youngest child started pre-school.

“I want to help people who are living with chronic conditions, to help alleviate their pain. About one in three people are living in pain, so there’s a huge need in the community for treatments that can assist,” said Amy, who has now secured full-time work as an exercise physiologist at Club Active Tweed Heads.

“Southern Cross University Gold Coast has amazing fresh new facilities such as the new Move Room, and it’s given me plenty of opportunities to be very hands-on in the labs and in the clinic on campus treating clients, where I’ve learned a lot.”

Southern Cross University is a leading regional University on Australia’s east coast with main campuses at Lismore, Coffs Harbour and the Gold Coast.

The University offers specialist professional qualifications in fields such as health, engineering, project management, education, business and law. Southern Cross graduates enjoy some of Australia’s highest employment rates and rank in the top 7 universities in the country for postgraduate salaries across all disciplines (Good Universities Guide 2021).


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