Lily Coleman
Lily Coleman

Lily Coleman

Indigenous Health Scholarship

University of Canberra, ACT
Sports & Exercise Science
Scholarship Awarded 2019-2020
Sponsored by:
Rotary Club of Tuggeranong

Past Indigenous Health Scholarships Program

How will I contribute to improving Indigenous health as a qualified medical practitioner or health worker?

In 2017, I was the Narragunnawalli Indigenous Captain at Merici College, my role was to enhance inclusion, recognition and education at the school for the Indigenous girls.  I worked with the school executive to orgnaise for Aboriginal girls from Wadeye NT, to come to our school for a week and for girls from Merici to go to Lambardina WA for three weeks as a cultural immersion.

In 2018, I went on Young Endeavour, a 10 day Navy leadership development program that taught in a very difficult climate whilst learning to sail a tall ship.   I also worked part time for 6 month as a Learning Support Assistant at Kaleen primary where I met children with and without physical and learning disabilities.  I learned to adapt to what each child required.  I could appreciate how the allied health area can have huge benefits to children in schools’ health and individual learning programs.

I am currently in the second year of a Sports and Exercise Science degree at University of Canberra.  I plan to do a Masters of Physiotherapy specialising in Paediatrics.   The inspiration for wanting to work in this field is due to two personal experiences.   Firstly, I  have been an interested observer of the various allied health professionals that support the management of my 10 year old sister’s disability.   Secondly, I have had two knee reconstructions, the last one was just after I accepted into a junior contemporary dance program with Bangara Dance Theatre.

I am aware that my parents have relied on a combination of NDIS, Closing the Gap funding and pro-bono work to afford all the care and support for myself and my sister.   I feel strongly about giving back and helping those in need tin the community and having the opportunity to support Indigenous clients.

Current Progressive Report

Like many, I have experienced curve ball after curve ball this year. Starting with the bushfires where thousands of people and homes were affected. Followed by a global pandemic I never thought I would live through, and occasionally other national natural and economic disasters including personal challenges tossed in the mix. As you know I have faced obstacles throughout my life, but never as diverse as these. The beauty of 2020 is once it has passed our multicultural nation will be stronger for it.

This year is my last year at the University of Canberra and I will finish with a Bachelor of Sports and Exercise Science, I plan to complete a Masters of Physiotherapy after a year off. During semester one I was enrolled in Advanced Functional Anatomy and Research and Professional Practice A. AFA was an extremely interesting and fun course, it originally was designed to be a hands on class, twice a week once in a lab and the other in a tutorial. Where I learnt about the body and how it moves in relation to exercise, disease and injury. RPPA is a class focused on research and providing placement for industry experience. I had lined up placement at a strength and conditioning gym which was very interesting. Before everything went online, I had been busy managing a full schedule of study, placement, classes, and work. I remember how I felt when I got the emails from the university halfway through the semester saying I would finish my degree on a laptop, and I was stood down at work until further notice. Immediately my 14-hour days had been stripped to nothing, studying from home with two younger sisters, mum on long service leave and dad being the only one with a full income. I found myself irritable, nervous, and stressed over a new lifestyle and an unknown immediate future. I learnt I am terrible at online university and my mum would sit my sisters and I down at the kitchen table from 9am to 3pm so we could focus properly on our studies. I watched my lectures and tutorials online and I had assignments and quizzes flowing out my ears. I decided online anatomy is just not the same as learning from cadavers in person. Thankfully I passed the unit, I was unable to complete RPPA or placement due to lockdown which you will see in my grades.

Going into winter semester I completed nutritional science, at this point I had become accustomed to online study and looking back I am grateful I had enrolled in winter because I would have gone stir crazy at home with nothing to do. This class was also great to have done during this time, since it was a nutrition subject – everything was about a healthy diet and lifestyle. I had convinced my family to go on a healthy meal plan where breakfast, lunch and dinner are planned for 28 days. We would walk to the local shops and buy 3 days-worth of groceries for the menu then walk home, and repeat. I found this a great way to practice healthy eating during such a stressful period and it helped me picture what I was eating for my class. I had an assignment where I had to weigh every part of my food for 3 days and report the data, then collate it with the rest of the class and write a scientific report.

All this time at home was a great way to reconnect with my family, whilst I missed seeing friends’ I had become accustomed to this lifestyle. My dad was the only one still working and mid-winter he was hospitalised for walking pneumonia. This really woke myself and my family up to the dangers of COVID-19 and that we might be personally affected by it. I was grateful to eventually start working again as he had 2 months off and is still not yet fully recovered. And I am grateful for how this scholarship money has supported my family during this time.

It’s funny to think that the past two years I’ve been at university I have not had time to stop like I have now. COVID-19 has taught me a lot of things, that I easily spread myself thin, that my family and their health are so important to me and how easily my world was flipped. Over the next 3 months I will be pushing myself hard to complete my placement, my studies, and my degree. I will look hard at getting a full-time job before starting a Masters of Physiotherapy. I know I should have reflected more on my studies in this letter, but quite frankly in 10 years-time when I look back at 2020, I won’t remember how hard my classes were. I will remember how strong my community is, how strong my family is, and how strong I am.

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