Rory Vocale

Indigenous Health Scholarship 2018

Australian Catholic University, NSW
Bachelor of Physiotherapy
Scholarship Awarded 2017
Sponsored by:

Rotary Club of Turramurra

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


For as long as I can remember I have always been passionate about helping others, instilling positive change and guiding people to pursuing a healthier lifestyle.   Thankfully, the opportunity ACU has given me to pursue my lifelong career goal builds the foundation for me to achieve these changes I have always wanted to in life by becoming a physiotherapist.

As a future Indigenous physiotherapist, I will use my expertise and skill set to conduct positive health and lifestyle changes within the Indigenous population.   After pursuing a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree, I soon came to realise that Indigenous Health remained detrimental to the Indigenous population.   With this in mind, I decided to move interstate to pursue a degree in Physiotherapy.  My career path will enable me to pursue a lifelong goal of mine, which is to reduce the number one factor contributing to Indigenous mortality – Cardiovascular Disease (CVD).   The opportunity to rehabilitate and restore mobility and functional capacity within individual’s as a physiotherapist will undoubtedly contribute to improving physical activity, and hence decreasing the onset of CVD.

Through my mentoring and volunteering experiences with Indigenous Australia I have soon come to the realisation that I can be a powerful voice to conduct change.   As the first Indigenous school prefect at Geelong Grammar School I was given the opportunity to mentor my other Indigenous peers in their education and lifestyles choices, ultimately aiming to instill health lifestyles.  My volunteering projects, including work in the Northern Territory with the Kata-Tjuta community, and pursuing multiple volunteering positions with National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy (NASCA) and the Tranby Indigenous Adult Education & Training Institute has given me a vision and passion for what needs to be done to instill positive healthy lifestyles in Indigenous Australia.   In acknowledgement of my passion, promotion and push to improve Indigenous health and education I was elected to be a student ambassador and board member  for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture and Student Engagement Committee at Australian Catholic University, within my first year of my degree.   I hold all my previous experiences mentoring and volunteering close to my heart as they have provided me with a true experience of my ancestral heritage.


Current Progressive Report

Year 3 semester 1 is known as the ‘make or break’ semester throughout the whole degree. The units were extremely challenging, in particular musculoskeletal physiotherapy 3 (spinal), cardiorespiratory physiotherapy 2 and neurological physiotherapy 1. I really enjoyed the musculoskeletal unit, of which is reflected in my results. I was extremely busy with my contact hours and the study hours dedicated to each unit on a nightly basis. Thankfully I had a great support network around, made up of both my peers and the Indigenous cohort staff at ACU.

I was grateful to get through this semester, especially with the results I managed. The next semester is ‘apparently’ a lot more relaxed, which couldn’t have come at a better time given how intense last semester was. The units for next semester are neurological physiotherapy 2, physiotherapy in selected populations, health care ethics and paediatric physiotherapy practice. The coming semester will be last theory-based semester before I go out on placement for the whole of next year. I’m so keen to be finished with studying and finally get to put all that theory into practice in the very near future.

Personally, the previous 6 months definitely threw its ups and downs at me. I balanced my sports trainer role with the intenseness of the study required to get through the semester, whilst still holding strong relationships with those close to me. I definitely grew as a person with some of the adverse things that came my way, especially during my exam period. To get through an exam period like that with the challenges sent my way truly gave me the belief I can do whatever I put my mind to. With thanks to Turramurra Rotary Club and Australian Rotary Health I am extremely grateful for assisting me immensely throughout my studies. I wouldn’t be where I am today, moving on to my last ‘theory’ semester of my degree with the grades that I have achieved. I look forward to continuing what we have!