Indigenous Health Scholarship
Deakin University, VIC
Doctor of Medicine
Scholarship Awarded 2017 – 2021
Ian and Claire Graham
How will I contribute to improving Indigenous health as a qualified medical practitioner or health worker?
My name is Gary Wallace and I am a descendant from the Iman Nation mob within Queensland (Taroom, Dalby area). My desire to be a doctor commenced just before my mother passed away from multiple strokes when I was 15 years of age. After leaving Slade College boarding school in Warwick I pursued Rugby League within Australia and England. My life then took me on one big journey back to my original desire to study medicine. Over the years I have practiced as a lawyer, coached professional, lectured etc, but my heart and mind has always focused on finding out various medical answers in order to help my mob. Our mob’s statistics are very poor when concerning health issues in relation life expectancy.
As a Doctor and Lawyer I will do whatever I can on a political and medical level to improve the health and life expectancy of our mob compared to non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I want to specialise in cardiology and set up my own fly in fly out medical service to the remote Indigenous communities. The aim is to provide improved access to cardiac services and therefore reduce the number of issues faced by our mob within communities, I then want to take the treatment to them. Remote communities constantly are under serviced and lack adequate medical treatment. I believe we need to streamline the government administration process to make sure the treatment of patients is the priority whenever money is involved.
Current Progressive Report
Hi, my name is Gary Wallace, and I am a descendant from the IMAN Nation mob in Queensland. My great grandmother and grandmother were born in Taroom and my mother in Miles. I am currently in my final semester of a Medical Doctorate. Before I start outlining how the second part of the year has fanned out, I would like to thank Rotary and my kind and loving sponsors. Both have assisted my completion of this very important degree.
I have been based at the University Hospital Geelong in Victoria for the past two years completing my clinical years. It certainly has been a long and hard road but now the end is close, and I realise all the sacrifices are well worth it. I am itching to get out and help our mob as there are very few qualified Medical Doctors compared to mainstream statistics. Sadly, the Australian Indigenous populous dominate the health statistics in a bad way and we need to increase the number of qualified Indigenous Doctors sooner rather then lately. Therefore, I encourage any Indigenous students from years 10-12 please get in touch with a medical school at the major universities and enquire what is needed for entry into medicine. There are plenty of us that said it never could be done but there are a small number of our mob that have completed and are doing wonderful things in community. If you don’t ask, you will never know.
In 2020 and 2021 there has been huge world changes due to COVID 19, and especially for medical students. Both students, medical schools, and hospitals and their staff have had to be flexible and adaptable due to the constraints enforced with social contact and distancing. This has meant students have gained in some areas and missed out in others but overall, with internship and the years to follow I am sure what we lack now we will make up later-on.
The final year of medicine is a great way to consolidate and apply the knowledge you learnt in third year. Rotations are shorter being 5 weeks instead of 7 weeks, and we get to experience such areas as General Practice, Age Care and Rehabilitation, Psychiatry, Anaesthetics/ICU, and two rounds in general medicine to name a few rotations. We also concluded our research rotation whereby we had to produce a monograph, poster, and a recorded presentation on the specific area of our choice. My research was on cultural safety care within the University Hospital Geelong. One of my best rotations being General Practice which I was based at the Wauderwrong Medical Centre in Geelong working with my mob. The next would have to be Anaesthetics, as the team of doctors are brilliant teachers and willing to let us fully participate. Psychiatry was awesome because it broadens your exposure and acceptance to many mental health issues I have never thought about.
With only a few exams and practicals left, it is a matter of head down and ensure I cross the Ts and dot the I’s, because the sooner I can help my mob in community the happier I will be. Once again, I would like to stress no matter how old or young you are, or the good or bad things you have experienced, please do not be ashamed to contact the Indigenous University units, or the medical schools and enquire about one day doing medicine. We really need our mob graduating as doctors. If you don’t ask you will never know and if you don’t try you will never know what you could have achieved. It is not about being the brainiest, it is about working hard and being persistent, consistent and eventually things will fall in place.