Indigenous medical students to boost Aboriginal communities

[supplied by UWA]

(L-R): Georgia-Rose Gosling, Shondell Hayden , Shailyn Isaac, Lucy Varakojis, Brianna Ozies, Guy Leggett, Sachi Nevill , Ben Ninyette, Caleb Rivers, Aaron Sutton , Yarlalu Thomas, Thad Zeitlin. Image: supplied

Twelve Indigenous students – the largest ever cohort to study medicine in any year – have commenced their postgraduate studies at The University of Western Australia.


The students come from all over Australia including Perth, Broome, Derby, One Arm Point, Tennant Creek, Warralong in the Pilbara, Exmouth, Halls Creek and Albany. 


One of the students, Yarlalu Thomas from Derby, was recently named the 2020 Western Australia Young Person of the Year for paving the path to better health for those living in regional and remote Western Australia.


The majority of the students completed undergraduate degrees in Biomedical Science or Science at UWA and many carried out research during their gap years. This year’s cohort will graduate together in 2023 and are looking forward to working as interns where they hope to make a huge difference in their communities.


Brianna Ozies, also from Derby, said it was an honour to be part of a record-breaking number of Indigenous students starting medicine.


“I’ve always wanted to be a doctor,” Ms Ozies said. “We are only a month into our studies, and you can already feel the strong friendships and support amongst us. Hopefully, we’ll graduate together at the end of the four years and make history.” 


Aaron Sutton, from Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, said more Indigenous people needed to pursue higher education in fields such as medicine to lead by example.


“Medicine is one of the vital areas in our society where there is a need for more Indigenous representation,” he said.


“I am really passionate about helping people which is why I am studying medicine. I would like to specialise in orthopaedics or neurosurgery and one day own and operate my own practice.”


52 Indigenous medical graduates from UWA are now working all over Australia, many as general practitioners, with others specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, psychiatry and cardiology.


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