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Advancing the careers of young First Nations health professionals

[by Eli Grynberg]


Kanisha Wills and Shenea Tipungwuti. Images supplied

The Bupa Foundation has announced two First Nations university students, Kanisha Wills and Shenea Tipungwuti, as recipients of the 2024 Dr Evelyn Scott Scholarship. They both will receive $15,000 to support them with their studies and ambition to establish careers that make a positive impact on health outcomes amongst First Nations communities.


The Dr Evelyn Scott Scholarship, established in 2018 is run on an annual basis by the Bupa Foundation to honour the legacy of Dr. Scott, a former resident of Bupa’s Mt Sheridan aged care home and a proud Indigenous leader, who spent her life fighting for the rights of all peoples. Kanisha, a Psychological Sciences student at the University of Adelaide, was recognised for her commitment and passion to address prejudice and unjust stereotypes about First Nations people in the community.


“I want to support young ones to be healthy, get a good education, find their passions, discover the joy in life, connect to culture and learn safe and healthy coping mechanisms for the hard times. I hope I can use this scholarship to gain as much knowledge as possible so that I can make real change so that we can be strong, proud and deadly,” said Kanisha.


Shenea, who is studying a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at University of Melbourne plans to enter Medical School after finishing her initial degree and undertake research on First Nations genetics and immunology as part of a PHD.


“It was only the influence of other First Nations peoples around me who went through university that pushed me to where I am today… I want to be able to do the same, I want to inspire others and influence them in a positive way,” said Shenea.


The Scholarship plays an important role in Bupa’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) which sets out goals to advance the careers of First Nations Health professionals. Bupa APAC, Chief Sustainability and Corporate Affairs Officer, Roger Sharp congratulated Kanisha and Shenea for their passion, energy and talent.


“Our vision for reconciliation is an Australia where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people enjoy equity and equality and are living longer, healthier, happier lives.


“We hope that through these scholarships, Kanisha, Shenea can develop distinguished careers and make meaningful impacts in their local communities and around Australia,” Roger said.


In addition to Kanisha and Shenea, the Bupa Foundation awarded two $10,000 ‘Highly Commended’ Runners Up prizes to Rebecca Haynes (Masters Speech Pathology at Flinders University) and Jess Jeffery (Bachelor of Medicine at the University of Western Sydney) in recognition of their high calibre applications.


Two $5,000 Runners Up prizes were also awarded to Tahnee Towers (Bachelor of Biomedicine at Victoria University and Lilliana Abel (Bachelor of Nursing/Bachelor of Paramedicine at Australian Catholic University).


Since 2018 Bupa has awarded more than $220k in scholarships and prizes to support First Nations university students who are participating in the CareerTrackers internship program. More information on the Dr Evelyn Scott Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Scholarship is available here.



Reduction in Indigenous newborn removals by child protection services [supplied by IUIH] Australian research published this month shows women who received care through an innovative Indigenous-led model of maternity care were three times less likely to have their Indigenous newborn removed by child protection services than women who received standard maternity care.


Teaching Indigenous children their traditional language could be the key to greater education outcomes [SBS] Indigenous children could have much greater educational outcomes if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups are more closely involved. First Nations Elders, senior leaders and representatives will present a co-design strategy at Parliament House in Canberra.


33 First Nations children have died in custody since 1991. Jai Kalani Wright was one of them [Tahnee Jash and Stephanie Boltje, ABC] Lachlan Wright picks up a bunch of dried eucalyptus leaves displayed on a table. They are the same leaves used two years ago in a smoking ceremony to commemorate the death of his 16-year-old son.

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