Molly King
Molly King

Molly King

Indigenous Health Scholarship

Monash University, VIC

Bachelor of Medicine
Scholarship Awarded 2020

Sponsored by:
Rotary Club of Mornington/Boronia Medical Centre

Indigenous Health Scholarship Program

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

Last year, I attended my Grandmother’s funeral; I never got the opportunity to meet her in person. As a very young girl, she was stolen from her home in NT and raised on a mission. She was institutionalised until she was 21 in what was described as ‘an experiment in assimilation’. Her son, my father, was also forcibly removed, this time at his birth, and sadly, as a result, he has grown up with identity issues, anxiety, depression and addiction; I have barely seen him for most of my life.

My story, although sad, is a common one for Indigenous Australians. Through assimilation policies, my connection to the Jawoyn culture has been fractured, as has my connection to key family members. From my own life experiences, I have seen first-hand the way these kinds of realities affect people mentally and physically; my own teenage years were an extremely challenging time. The turning point in my own life occurred in my late teens, when I met my biological uncle Robbie for the first time, and witnessed the life he has created, despite the difficulties he faced growing up. He serves his community in Swan Hill working in schools with Indigenous youth. When I met him, I saw the sense of fulfilment and connection to culture he had been able to establish by serving his community and helping young people who were ‘at risk,’ as he had once been. From observing his interactions, it was very clear to see that he has found his sense of purpose.

From that moment, I was completely inspired and understood that the key to my own happiness was also working to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians. For me, that would be through health-care, as a Doctor. I understand that the shocking disparity in health outcomes between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians is intrinsically linked to the additional challenges that many Indigenous Australians face such as: racism, family dislocation and loss of culture and land, disempowerment and poverty. These kinds of challenges not only affect people’s emotional well-being, but also their physical well-being and ultimately, their mortality.

Living remotely means that many Indigenous Australians do not have adequate access to medical care, and research suggests that frequently, the medical care they do receive often lacks cultural sensitivity, with 25% of Indigenous Australians indicating they have experienced racism during medical care. I am determined to address these barriers to health for indigenous Australians when I graduate. I intend to work in remote communities and while it would be an absolute dream, to one day, work in my Grandmother’s Jawoyn country, I know that I will receive fulfilment from working in any remote community. I have a keen interest in addressing the high percentage of Indigenous people suffering from diabetes and associated complications such as renal failure. Similarly, fuelled by the disproportionate statistics, as well as my own father’s personal challenges, I am interested in addressing addictions and mental health. I am passionate about ensuring that I provide patient-centred health care, which is culturally sensitive and respectful of differences, such as indirect communication styles. I intend to bring informed methods to my practice which have been shown to enhance the comfort of Indigenous Australians seeking medical treatment such as clinical yarning and to focus on the whole person. I believe my own life experiences including family dislocation and loss of culture has positioned me to appreciate the connection between emotional pain and physical health and to understand the need for individuals to live empowered lives with strong connections to supportive communities and country. This in turn, will enhance the efficacy of medical interventions provided.

Current Progressive Report

Year 4 was one of the most rewarding but tough years so far in my medical degree.

I got to experience many new and exciting specialities and discover my passion for paediatrics. I was pushed out of my comfort zones in every way possible and in some moments, I felt a little lost along the way. I am so proud and happy with my results of year 4 and my strength to push through and complete and pass two written exams and 12 observed clinical scenarios (OSCEs).

After year 4 I decided to take an intermission year. Prior to medicine I had studied two years of pharmacy achieving high distinctions in order to transfer into medicine. I felt that I needed a year to restore my physical and mental health and explore parts of the world before graduating and moving into full time work.
For the first part of 2023 I spent with family and friends back in Tasmania around the people I love as well as working and saving money to go travelling with friends. Later in the year I went on a surfing trip to Indonesia with my partner Finn and some friends from school. It was such adventurous time meeting such beautiful Indonesian people and exploring their land. I also came home with a surfing scar on my forehead (thanks to Finn). I feel very fortunate that I was able to travel and take this year off to take care of myself.

In December I was lucky enough to attend the AIDA (Australian Indigenous Doctors Association) Conference in Nipaluna, Lutruwita. This was such an exciting opportunity, and it was such a special time forming new connections with other Indigenous medical students as well as catching up with some I had not seen in a while. The conference was inspiring, seeing what people have done and what I could do in the future. I left the conference feeling ready and excited to return to medicine.

This year I am heading back to Melbourne and am placed at Monash Medical Centre as well as one rotation at Dandenong. My first rotation is Acute General Surgery which will be great experience for me brush up on my clinical skills. I have been elected as MUMUS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Vice President for 2024. This role will allow me to advocate for Indigenous medical students within Monash and help facilitate interactive activities throughout the year as well as acting as a support to students. I was also lucky enough to be elected on the Student Representative Committee for AIDA. I am excited to start this role in 2024 and delve into some leadership.

I feel going back into this year content and restored in every way possible. I know that prior to taking this year off I doubted as well as other if it was the best choice for me at this point during my studies. But what I have learnt this year is that in order to heal and help others you need to listen and help yourself first. I am glad I listened to myself and I am very excited and grateful to be returning to study this year. I am also very grateful to be receiving this scholarship. After working some hospitality jobs this year to save to travel I have realised how exhausting this would be to do and juggle placement as well. Having a scholarship like this one has meant I am able to rest and live comfortably throughout the year and can put my energy into studying and placement.

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