We asked Robbie a few questions about his RMIT experience, how Ngarara Willim supported him through his studies and what’s next in his career.

Robbie Stephen-Dettmann
Robbie Stephen-Dettmann

Tell us about your RMIT experience.

My experience at RMIT was fantastic. I had come out of a very dangerous domestic violence relationship and overcome a substance abuse issue in my life. I didn’t quite know what to do with myself so through talking with my mental health counsellor decided I would undertake some study to find out why certain things had happened to me.

What did you study?

In my first year I studied the Cert IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs as a means to finding out what had caused me to have a substance use problem. I loved the course so much that I went on the next year to study the Diploma in Alcohol and Other Drugs. I was so lucky to have the most awesome lecturer and as a result was really fortunate to be awarded the William Cooper Prize for commitment to community and study.

How did your course influence your career?

Wow what a question! This study influenced my career so much that I then went on to study my [Certificate IV in Training and Assessment] TAE40116 + LLN so that I could become a teacher myself and give back to those that had given me so much, and to the future youth of our community.

What was your biggest takeaway from studying at RMIT?

My biggest take away from studying at RMIT was that no matter how old you are, what adversity you have faced and how alone you might feel, there is a family that will envelope you with empathy and kindness [so] that you can go on to achieve anything that you want.

"I was so lucky to have the most awesome lecturer and as a result was really fortunate to be awarded the William Cooper Prize for commitment to community and study"

How are you still connected to RMIT and the Ngarara Willim community?

I have gone on to be a Sessional Teacher at RMIT which I love and I have stayed connected to Ngarara Willim by being a volunteer practitioner in the AoD sector at Galiamble Aboriginal Mens Rehabilitation Service that services other men from the Woi Wurrung and Boon Wurrung language groups of the East Kulin Nation – which I love, too deadly.

Have you maintained any mentors from your time here?

Yes, my main mentor has become a lifelong friend whom I see every week and have forged an awesome relationship with.

Do you mentor and/or guest lecture in the community?

Yes. I mentor, guest speak and lecture all the time for many different organisations.

What are the top three things you’ve learned in your career?

In my second life career I have learned the following top four things:
– How to chill out and relax
– Nothing is the end of the world
– Trust in myself because others trust in me
– Palawa men are welcomed and accepted by Woi Wurrung and Boon Wurrung as their own.

What are your plans for 2021 and beyond?

I’ve commenced studying my Masters in Youth Mental Health. I am also doing another Cert IV and Diploma in Work Health and Safety and I want to continue giving back to my community and the larger community.

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