Reese Salmon
Reese Salmon

Reese Salmon

Indigenous Health Scholarship

Deakin University, VIC

Bachelor of Psychology
Scholarship Awarded 2022

Sponsored by:
Rotary Club of Murrumbidgee Canberra

Indigenous Health Scholarship Program

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

As an Aboriginal woman in Australia, I am cognisant of issues faced by my people. I have chosen to become a health worker in the allied health field (Psychologist) to try to alleviate some of the stigma surrounding seeking mental health services in Indigenous communities. Having previously volunteered in a rural Aboriginal Community, I have witnessed the stigma surrounding mental health.

Some key influences that made me want to be a Psychologist are:

  • I have experienced first-hand the devastation caused by severe mental health issues – having been affected by the suicide of a family member, this is a key driver for me to become a Psychologist. I have also witnessed the ongoing effects of trans-generational trauma, not only in my family but in the community. The ongoing adverse effects of colonisation on Indigenous peoples’ mental health is a particular interest of mine, and something I would like to potentially specialise in for my post-graduate studies.
  • I would like to be a role model to younger generations. Being the first person to graduate from university in my family of 8 siblings has shown me the power of being a role model. I hope to encourage my younger siblings, nieces/nephews and cousins to not only become health professionals, but to show them that with perseverance their goals are attainable.

Some accomplishments I hope to achieve within my career as a health worker:

  • As a health professional, within the next 10 years I would like to practice as a Psychologist in rural Indigenous communities that lack mental health services, or set up a services to allow these communities ongoing face-to-face sessions with Psychologists.
  • Within the next 5 years I would like to work as a Psychologist in the criminal justice system, whether it be as an Indigenous well-being officer or as a prison Psychologist. I hope to be able to help rehabilitate prisoners and break the cycle.

Since 18 years old, I have continued volunteer for Indigenous causes wherever possible.

  • Amnesty International – I volunteered as a research assistant to an Indigenous Rights Campaigner under the Community is Everything campaign, which looked at reducing the number of incarcerated Indigenous children in the justice system and raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility.
  • Oodnadatta Volunteer Program – I completed the 3-month Oodnadatta program run by Australian Volunteers International (AVI). I went to a rural Aboriginal community called Oodnadatta (SA) to run/organise community projects and assist with literacy at the local school.
  • South Africa Wallabies Exchange – I was selected for a 6-week Indigenous volunteer exchange program in which I helped build an eco-village for a rural town in South Africa. I also ran children’s activities and taught the community about Indigenous culture.
  • I am currently a Tutor for the Deakin Institute of Koori Education – I hope to tutor Indigenous students in their first year of Psychology when I progress to my third year of study.

Current Progressive Report

Last year in Semester 2 I completed a unit I have been looking forward to, Forensic Psychology. I’ve had keen interest in this topic from a young age (this could stem from my mum working as a social worker) and found it to be really insightful. My first degree was a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Criminology so it felt like a bit of a throwback to my late teens/early 20’s university days. The unit itself focussed on criminal offending, discussing potential factors such as cultural, socioeconomic status, and upbringing (it was fascinating to dive into the psychology of  ‘nature vs nurture’ in detail.)

This unit was integral to my degree major of Forensics Studies, and I really enjoyed it!

For my first assessment I completed a narrated power point presentation based on a case study of a fictional sex offender. In the presentation I included my first Static-99 risk assessment. Static-99 is an actuarial risk assessment instrument designed to assess risk of sexual recidivism for adult males who have already been charged with a sex crime. Prior to this unit I had no idea this existed or that it is one of the most common tools psychologists use to assess recidivism in these offenders.

My second assessment was around a case study on intimate partner abuse. As someone that would eventually like to help victims of domestic violence, this was a particularly interesting assessment. In this case study I assessed the different types of abuse I could identify (financial, social isolation) that were experienced by the victim and researched the relevant support services I could supply them. I got my marks back from this assessment and received one of the highest marks I’ve ever received – I was pretty pleased with myself!

All in all, I learnt a lot this semester and can’t wait to see what the new year brings.

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