Indigenous Health Scholarship
University of Melbourne, VIC
Master of Public Health
Scholarship Awarded 2019
Group 2 Clubs Rotary District 9790
How will I contribute to improving Indigenous health as a qualified medical practitioner or health worker
The strength and resilience of my community, the Yorta-Yorta nation has been a significant factor in determining the role that I would undertake on country. I grew up surrounded by strong and proud black women who shaped not only my career but also my path in life. This has reinforced the need to giving back and contributing to ensure our communities continue to build. Furthermore, it inspired me to undertake a Bachelor of Nursing and has led to a nine year career working within my hospital on country. Significantly, I have been able to experience the health needs that my community and First Nations people are burdened with. My specialty is haemo-dialysis nursing and providing treatment for patients who have end stage kidney failure. The statistics for kidney failure are dire in the context of First Nations health. First nations people are twice as likely to have indicators of kidney disease. Risk factors such as diabetes, obesity, poor nutrition, poverty and high blood pressure compounded by multiple barriers.
My ultimate goal is to contribute to decreasing the over representation of kidney disease for First Nations people. Chronic kidney disease impacts on First nations people physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually and is a significant chronic disease. Being in a position where I can make a difference and contribute to improving the health and well-being of First Nations people can be further enhanced with completion of the Maters of Public Health.
Current Progressive Report
The first semester for 2019 I undertook a capstone subject Public Health in Practice. This unit aimed to give a comprehensive review of the overall public health principles within the masters program. Topics covered were typical of the public health domain and leading experts were presenters of various case studies. I was able to reinforce my knowledge and skills developed thought out my four years of studying public health. This allowed me to apply public health practices and develop solutions for complex health issues and systems.
A subject matter that has sparked my interest in the last few years has been Indigenous sexual health. This was a very significant issue covered during the semester and highlighted the failure of government policy in ensuring ongoing funding and support for vulnerable population groups in relation to sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). STI’s are a significant public health issue that the health care system has an opportunity to reduce its overburden especially within Indigenous communities. The wide-ranging impacts that STI’s contribute to include reproductive health, newborn mortality and quality of life. Furthermore severe health, social and mental wellbeing consequences are common outcomes and contribute to health disparity. STI control can be addressed using various principles that aim to prevent the burden of disease. Reinforcing sexual health education, building on community capacity, strengthening the sexual health workforce and increasing access to sexual health services can address barriers that have increased the prevalence of STI rates. These public health strategies are evidenced based and thus effective and efficient in providing reductions in transmissions of STI’s. The burden of morbidity and mortality on the population can be reduced considerably among Indigenous people and furthermore contribute to a healthier, productive and stronger community. This is a subject that I feel I will go into further and why I have decided to take on a primary health care subject for next semester to reinforce the practices that are important to maximize health and well-being within Indigenous communities.