I am Lloyd Diggins, a Wongi Aboriginal man who grew up on Whadjuk and Wardandi Noongar countries where I am accepted. I am an active member of my communities. I am currently placed in Kununurra as part of the Rural Clinical School of WA. I have progressed through the first two years of the Doctor of Medicine course and am currently completing the courses’ third year.
After high school I studied physiotherapy which allows to work in hospitals in Western Australia. I had not anticipated that in my physiotherapy career I would get the opportunity to work with many Aboriginal patients, but due to being so over represented in healthcare systems I had great experiences treating my own people. At work I was discouraged by senior physiotherapy staff from combining my culture with my physiotherapy work, and I became frustrated by the experiences.
I was encouraged to move to the Northern Territory by my nurse sister, as she found that she was supported in providing culturally appropriate healthcare in Darwin, and she enjoyed living within and caring larger Aboriginal population. Whilst working at Royal Darwin hospital I was offered the opportunity to develop the Allied Health service at Gove District Hospital in East Arnhem Land. During that service development position, I demonstrated that the area need a full time physiotherapist and a full time dietitian, but what I found was that the area really just needed another General Practitioner for prevention of disease progression to improve access to dialysis and to provide a palliative care service. I had also fallen in love with the Yolngu people and the Gove region, and I thought that if I was going to live in Arnhem Land for the rest of my career I ought to ‘duck into town’ and pick up a degree that would let me provide the type of help that the local people needed.
Since commencing medicine in WA I have continued to work for the WA Country Health Service alongside my immediate and extended family. I have seen how a lack of access to palliative care in rural and remote areas is devastating to Aboriginal people dying away form their land and families. I have seen how young people are growing up without their parents because dialysis is not accessible to Aboriginal people in rural areas. I have also seen the importance of an Aboriginal medical workforce, where my improved confidence in combining my culture with my healthcare provision has reduced other staff’s racism and improved Aboriginal people’s confidence and engagement in healthcare.