Michael Lawler
Michael Lawler

Michael Lawler

Indigenous Health Scholarship 2022

James Cook University, QLD

Master of Tropical Medicine
Scholarship Awarded 2022

Sponsored by:
Rotary Club of Darwin

Indigenous Health Scholarship Program

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

Currently working as a dentist in the public health sector in the Northern Territory I am excited to pursue higher education through James Cook University as I endeavour to contribute to positive change and equitable health for people in communities like those in which I am fortunate enough to practice.

In 2018 I successfully completed my studies at La Trobe University, Bendigo, to become the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander to graduate from the university’s school of oral health since its establishment in 2008. Since graduating I have worked in the Top End of the Northern Territory in both urban and remote settings and hold great pride in my clinical ability to provide direct dental and oral health care to some of the most vulnerable people in the country.

Being raised in Aboriginal communities and in the Torres Strait has had a significant effect in my personal life and has motivated me toward attaining a career in healthcare as I have experienced the detrimental barriers in health, access to care and education which continue to effect and impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and broader remote populations.

Building valuable relationships with community members in remote communities and clinics in aiming to increase awareness in oral health education and health literacy, has been core to my practice as an Indigenous health professional and has fuelled my passion for health promotion and Indigenous advocacy.
As an individual clinician I recognise the limited capacity I have in implementing sustainable health promotion strategies while balancing clinical responsibilities, however as an Indigenous person I strongly identify with the significant and fundamental need for Indigenous representation and contribution regarding decision making of local, national and global healthcare policy and reform to improve the quality of life for First Nations people.

It is by acknowledging this need and maintaining a determination to advance my education and career toward improving the lives of First Nations communities, that I have specifically selected to study a Master of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at JCU. I have been heavily inspired by the remarkable range of subjects which are offered in this unique course and feel that the core learning outcomes reflect both my personal and professional aspirations to work in population health. The emphasis on health promotion and its application in tropical regions and remote populations I feel are major attractions integrated in this course which align strongly with my professional values. Continuing my tertiary education will undoubtedly deepen my understanding in such areas, allowing me to develop my future career ambitions in my dedication toward improving the health, well-being and empowerment of individuals, families and communities as a whole.

I am excited at the possibility of being selected as a recipient of an Australian Rotary Health Indigenous Health Scholarship and to continue my relationship with Rotary Health who were also supportive of me during my time as a dental student.

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