AMA and AIDA hold Taskforce on Indigenous Health meeting as WA student presented with Indigenous Medical Scholarship

Australian Medical Association

The latest presentation of the AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship received extensive media coverage last week.

Health leaders met on Ngunnawal land in Canberra last Friday to discuss strategies to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly addressed the AMA-Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) Taskforce on Indigenous Health and spoke about communicable diseases. Retired military officer-turned GP and AMA CGP member Dr Bernard Westley spoke about increasing access to support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans.

University of Western Australia medical student and aspiring paediatrician Kahlie Lockyer was presented with a 2023 AMA Indigenous Scholarship at the beginning of the taskforce meeting.

Ms Lockyer’s award received considerable media coverage, including a television package airing on SBS’s NITV this Monday and pieces in the Broome Advertiser and National Indigenous Times.

The 35-year-old – belonging to the Ngarluma and Karriyarra people from the Pilbara region and the Yawuru and NyulNyul people from the Kimberley region – also gave an interview to ABC Pilbara.

In her interviews, Ms Lockyer highlighted the significance of the AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship in supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students.

“It’s almost surreal, sometimes I have to pinch myself that this is actually happening and that I was worthy of receiving it,” Ms Lockyer told ABC Pilbara.

“To me, (it) is more about the empowerment it gave me. On a national level, the AMA had actually wanted to invest in my future career, in getting through medical school and becoming the doctor I want to be.”

AIDA President and Taskforce co-chair Dr Simone Raye gave an in-depth update on AIDA’s Igiliyawa – Custodians of Life 2024 Program.

The program brought together 20 Torres Strait Islander doctors and medical students with local community leaders and state and federal politicians.

Igilyawa was a celebration that aimed to create an opportunity for reciprocity through cultural exchange and clinical leadership. Establishing and strengthening connections between Torres Strait Islander doctors and students with community – including knowledge exchange with Elders – is foundational to the delivery of culturally safe healthcare and enhancing the medico-cultural perspective of these unique healthcare leaders.

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