Myles McKenzie
Myles McKenzie

Myles McKenzie

Indigenous Health Scholarship

James Cook University, Qld

Doctor of Medicine
Scholarship Awarded 2024

Sponsored by:
Rotary Club of Essendon

Indigenous Health Scholarship Program

Student Profile

I am Myles McKenzie, a proud Barundji Aboriginal man of the Paroo river, raised in Townsville, North Queensland. Having grown up in regional North Queensland, I became cognizant of the complex health disparities faced in Northern Australia, including the elevated prevalence of untreated mental illness within Aboriginal communities and inaccessibility to culturally sensitive health services. The implications of these health disparities became especially evident during my secondary education, where I learnt that suicide remains one of the leading causes of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, affecting Aboriginal children as young as nine years of age.

These shocking health disparities inspired my passion for mental health, determined to reduce mental illness and suicide in my community. This aspiration motivated my completion of a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) before pursuing medicine. Currently, I am completing my second year of a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery with an expected completion date of December 2028. Following my medical training, I plan to complete a psychiatric fellowship and utilise my diverse mental health skills along with my cultural background to provide culturally sensitive mental healthcare for Aboriginal communities across North Queensland.

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

As a young Aboriginal man, my medical aspirations were instigated following my Aboriginal initiation at the age of 13. During this time, I began to hear the stories of my community elders where I learnt of the substantial health disparities experienced within remote communities, noting a common theme among my Elders’ stories: a sense that their health had been forgotten.

This experience highlighted the crucial need for accessible and culturally sensitive healthcare on country, and I would love nothing more than the opportunity to implement this approach for my North Queensland region as an Aboriginal doctor. This desire quickly transpired into self-determination following work experience in the remote Hughenden hospital and Townsville psychiatric unit. I realised mental health was often under-appreciated in medicine, with many of my mob left suffering untreated mental illness, unable to access mental health services. This prompted my aspiration to become an Aboriginal psychiatrist in North Queensland and provide culturally sensitive mental healthcare on-country to reduce the soring prevalence of untreated mental illness in North Queensland.

Through this aspiration, I will utilise my medicine, psychology, and cultural background to adapt a holistic approach to patient care, recognising that each component, be it physical, social, environmental, cultural, or spiritual, are crucial to achieve positive patient outcomes. Most importantly, I hope to utilise my traditional Aboriginal Spirituality and medical knowlegde to provide cultural, community-based mental healthcare and finally, reduce the distressing presence of Aboriginal youth suicide.

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