Not content to be just a tourist in Western Australia, Dutch woman Elke van Vegchel has settled in Fremantle to provide support to homeless and disadvantaged people.
Elke, from The Netherlands, is now working for the Freo Street Doctor – a mobile medical health service that helps people in need in the Fremantle, Melville and Cockburn areas.
Her work includes driving the van, as well as coordinating patients, scheduling their medical appointments and referring them to other community and health services.
Elke's rewarding work with disadvantaged people began after she studied a Certificate III in Community Services Work at Challenger Institute of Technology.
After being employed in the hospitality industry in Holland for many years, Elke felt a desire to help people and so changed her career path.
"I wanted to start doing something beneficial for other people's lives and society," she said.
"I've always felt the need to be of help to people who are less fortunate than myself, even if it's just the smallest thing that could change a life."
The skills Elke gained from her hospitality work have been valuable in her new role with the Freo Street Doctor, including being sociable and approachable, working as part of a team and handling hectic situations.
Elke said the Challenger Institute course was a great foundation for a career in community services, allowing students to undertake field work while studying.
"I really like the fact that the course has a practical focus, rather than just theory," she said. "In the end I think that's the best way to really learn and develop skills."
Elke said she planned to complete a Diploma in Community Services Work at Challenger Institute and dreamed of one day establishing an orphanage in Central America.