Sarah Vickery Sarah Vickery
Media Resources

Sarah Vickery, Media & Corporate Communications Coordinator, T: +61 2 4221 3120 E:

UOW Media Office, T: +61 4221 4227 | E:

Persistence the key as Indonesian student graduates in nursing

How Indah built a new life and career after heartache.

When Indah Wahyuni arrived in Australia from Indonesia eight years ago, she made the decision to reinvent herself.

Two failed marriages had left her with little in the way of finances or a place to call home. With the support of charity organisation, Dress for Success Sydney, Indah was able to get back on to her feet – yesterday (Tuesday 5 December) she was one of 64 nursing students from UOW’s Southern Sydney campus attending graduation celebrations at Sutherland District Trade Union Club.

For Indah, Dress for Success was nothing short of life changing. They assisted her with interview preparation, provided her with corporate clothing, encouraged her to find work and continue her education.

“They helped me to find independence and focus on money management, which was great as I was trying to help provide for my family.

“When I first came into the program, I applied for a job in home care and became a carer assistant for elderly and disabled people. I really enjoyed this area of work and decided I wanted to become a nurse,” she said.

After completing a Certificate IV in Aged Care and Diploma of Dementia Care in 2014, Indah successfully gained entry into the University of Wollongong’s Bachelor of Nursing.

Living in Rockdale, Indah wasn’t interested in travelling long distances to study while juggling her family and existing job responsibilities. She said UOW’s South Sydney campus offered the course she was interested in and the most convenient location.

Indah maintained a clear focus on her goal to complete her nursing qualification. She was no stranger to study, having previously obtained a chemistry degree in 1996.

Her former profession entailed working for an international chemical company in Indonesia, before the global recession began.

A short time later, Indah took the initiative to establish her own business importing and supplying chemicals to factories. She successfully ran the business for four years until her first marriage broke down. She lost everything, despite having two small children to support.

“My first husband took all my money, it was just like robbery and was a disaster for me. My children were only five and two at the time, and they can’t remember their own father,” she said.

With nothing to her name, Indah was forced to move in with her parents until she met her second husband, an Indonesian-Australian man. They later married and she moved to Sydney to be with him in 2010, before having a third child.

Four years later, her second marriage broke down, and she was left without a home and as the sole carer of her three children – one of whom has a physical disability.

Indah stayed with different friends for several weeks while she got back on her feet, and was eventually able to move into her own place. It was during this time, she turned her fortunes around and set her sights on building a new life and nursing career.

Calling on a combination of passion and persistence, Indah managed to secure paid nursing placements before being offered two coveted graduate positions at St George Private and Public Hospitals, as she was nearing completion of her studies.

“I was one of just 21 people to be offered a position at St George Private Hospital, Indah said. “I was so happy to be selected out of 250 applicants.

“Then the following week I got an email from St George Public Hospital, which I didn’t want to open because I was thinking I wasn’t going to get the job. I couldn’t believe it, I was also offered the position there, which I accepted.

“My preference is aged care. In my culture, we look after our parents and usually take care of our elderly at home. I look at Australia and surprisingly aged care is the lowest preference for students. But I know I will learn so much more in my first year by working here.”

After turning her life around and successfully putting herself through tertiary education, Indah is proud of her achievements and hopes her children will benefit from her choices.

“Hopefully I will become a role model for my children who are now 15, 12, and seven. I don’t have family here, it’s just me. My son has disabilities so if I can do this, anyone can,” she said.

web-Indah with childrenIndah with her children Hanna,12 and Arikah, 7.