Two Moree health students have received a $10,000 boost to their university studies as part of a pair of long-running local scholarships.
Madelyn Johnson, a second-year student studying a Doctor of Medicine at Charles Sturt University, is humbled after being named the winner of the Barwon Health Alliance Dr William K Hunter Scholarship
“It is really nice to be recognised in the community,” said Madelyn Johnson, second year student.
“I have always had faith in myself to study medicine, but it is nice to have others share that faith in you.”
Madelyn is currently completing her final pre-clinical year in Orange before heading to the Northern Rivers in 2025 to start her clinical study, however, there are aspirations to get back home.
“One of the reasons I got into medicine is for my local community, so I think it would be nice to go back home.” said Madelyn.
“Before I started studying, I was working at Pius, which is the Aboriginal Medical Centre in Moree, and I was there for about five years and then I decided I wanted to do something more.”
“It’s no secret what rural health is like at the moment, not being able to get doctors out in the bush, so that is why I got into it and hopefully I can help out in the long run.”
Described by her award namesake, Dr Hunter, as a ‘Trailblazer’, Madelyn is a proud Moree local and Aboriginal woman eager to follow in his footsteps.
“Dr Hunter means a lot to the community, he seems so down to earth and everyone in the community speaks so highly of him and everyone knows who he is.” said Madelyn.
Over the past 20 years, this scholarship has supported 37 students from Bingara, Warialda, Moree and Collarenebri in their pursuit of a variety of health careers including medicine,physiotherapy, speech therapy, psychology, dentistry and biomedical science.
Morgan O’Dempsey is a second-year student studying a Bachelor of Nursing at the University of New England, and was delighted to receive the Gwydir Valley Cotton Industry’s Healthy Communities’ scholarship for 2024.
“This is amazing, thank you” she said.
Funding medical scholarships since the 1990s, Gwydir Cotton Growers Association committee member Liam Winter said the organisation shared a common goal with the Barwon Health Alliance of supporting local medical students and creating a stronger and more viable health sector.
The two organisations partnered in 2022 to run and promote the scholarships together, streamlining the process for applicants.
More professionals for the bush
Dr Hunter pushed the importance and need to bring more health professionals to the country, and the fact that graduates from rural areas are more likely to return than their city counterparts make these scholarships all the more significant.
More universities are realising the need to provide opportunities for rural students and aiming to increase their intake from regional areas.
“We all know that all rural areas have shortages of health professionals in all categories,” said Dr Hunter.
“At the present time, I understand there are 60 or more towns in New South Wales without any doctors.”
He noted that very few towns maintain obstetric services, and that rural hospitals have become reliant on locum services for adequate staffing.
“We also know that students from rural towns have to contend with higher transport and accommodation costs to attend the city-based courses,” he said.
“These scholarships are there to help alleviate these costs, as well as to encourage local students to have a go.”
Applications for the 2025 scholarships will open later this year.
Initial story reported on by the New England Times: Health scholarships for students from Moree, Warialda, Bingara or Collarenebri | New England Times (netimes.com.au)