SPONSORED: Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students studying, or intending to study, entry-level health courses could receive life changing financial assistance to follow their passion thanks to the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme.

Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter was a champion of the movement to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia. Born in 1951, Puggy held a number of influential positions, including Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) from 1991 until his passing in 2001.

Some of his achievements include negotiating the section 100 arrangements of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for the supply of medicines through Aboriginal health services in remote areas and working to ensure the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services had the legal ability to bulk bill under Medicare. Throughout his life, he remained firmly dedicated to tackling the big health issues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Puggy’s drive and commitment is remembered in an annual Scholarship Scheme named in his honour, The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS). The Scheme—which is administered by the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) thanks to funding from the Australian Government Department of Health—encourages and assists undergraduate students in health-related disciplines to complete their studies and join the health workforce.

Scholarships are available for entry-level or graduate entry-level courses and are worth up to $15,000 per year for full-time study and $7,500 per year for part-time study.

The PHMSS provides the financial assistance to help the next generation of leaders follow in Puggy’s footsteps and make a transformational impact on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

This is reflected in the testimonies provided to ACN by two recent PHMSS graduates, Ashleigh Ryan and Tom Rout.

Ashleigh—a Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) (Honours) Graduate—highlighted the scholarship funds were crucial to helping her invest more time in her studies.

“Without the PHMSS, I don’t believe I would have been able to put the time and effort in to achieving my goal of First Class Honours,” she said.

She also highlighted that pursuing a career in health is a great way to make an impact and improve health outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

“A career in health is not only rewarding, but you also have the opportunity to influence and change the health system to be more equitable and inclusive of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people.”

For Tom, a psychology student, the scholarship has helped to further his passion of addressing mental health concerns of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“I found the increased rates of mental health difficulties among Indigenous people extremely concerning, and thought this could be an area where I could help to Close the Gap,” he said.

“The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship significantly reduced financial stress associated with being a student and allowed me to devote most of my time to studying instead of working. I was even able to put some of the funding towards my HECS.”

To be eligible for a scholarship, applicants must be studying an entry-level health course in one of the disciplines outlined below in semester one 2021, and be able to confirm their Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent:

  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health work & practice
  • Medicine
  • Allied health (all specialties except pharmacy)
  • Midwifery
  • Dentistry/oral health (excluding dental assistants)
  • Nursing (EN & RN).

Applications are now open and close on Sunday 8 November 2020.

More information, including a full description of eligibility criteria, can be found on the ACN website or by contacting the ACN Scholarships Team on 1800 688 628 or via scholarships@acn.edu.au.