Reese Salmon
Reese Salmon

Reese Salmon

Indigenous Health Scholarship 2022

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

In trimester 1 2022 I studied Foundations of Psychological Science, The Human Mind, and Human Social Behaviour. I found these to be really eye-opening subjects.

I was able to learn about some foundational psychology theories, including how ones experience during formative years as a child, coupled with social environment, can determine later habits in life.

This was particularly interesting for me to be able to self-assess my own life and family, and potentially why I and some of my siblings (I’m 1 of 8) may have developed certain habits, and differing health behaviours. This is especially interesting given I am an identical twin – even though we were raised in the same environment we both have different habits (e.g. she is a smoker, I’m not). I look forward to delving deeper into the psychology behind health behaviours in the current trimester.

For the subject Foundations of Psychological Science I was able to learn about the science practitioner model and evidence in psychology. The science practitioner model provides a foundation for future Psychologists to be both researchers and practitioners. This also ensures that from diagnosis, to treatment, the entire process is based on empirical evidence and research. For this subject I learnt more about different research designs such as experimental, observational, and qualitative vs quantitative designs.

In the subject The Human Mind, I was able to write my first mock lab report based on an experiment about the illusory effect in young people. The illusory effect is the tendency to believe false information to be correct after repeated exposure. I found learning about this topic in particular to be really interesting, and it made me more self aware of how I perceive things.

Studying psychology thus far has solidified in my mind that I am on the right path career wise. In the short time I have been studying psychology (currently in my second year) I have learnt a plethora of new information, and feel as though this has already made me more equipped to speak about mental health with family members and friends.

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