‘A shining example of dedication, empathy and leadership’

Jolyon Attwooll

26/10/2023 4:32:59 PM

Inspiring speeches and stories were heard as the college celebrated the 2023 RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health awards.

Award winners
Clockwise from TL: Dr Karen Nicholls; Dr Nicole Higgins with Dr Kali Hayward; Associate Professor Brad Murphy; Dr Mark Daley.

In a ceremony that took place on Gadigal Land this week, inspirational GPs received awards from Dr Karen Nicholls, Chair of the RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Faculty, and RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins.
Standing Strong Together Award (dual winners) – Dr Kali Hayward and Dr Mark Daley

Dr Kali Hayward
Dr Nicholls paid tribute to Warnman woman Dr Hayward, describing her as ‘an outstanding mentor’, and a ‘shining example of dedication, empathy and leadership, both regionally and nationally’.
Dr Nicholls said her GP colleague’s ‘unwavering commitment’ to quality healthcare and raising awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture has led to ‘more respectful, inclusive healthcare services’ as well as improved patient satisfaction and outcomes.
In her speech, Dr Hayward paid tribute to her father, who was forcibly removed from his family as part of the Stolen Generation.
‘The person that decided that was a doctor,’ she told award attendees.
‘He went into the community, and it was on his say-so that [my father] was removed. He wasn’t put into a hospital, he was put into a jail cell at the age of four.
‘So I want to acknowledge my father.
‘And I want to acknowledge what we do as doctors with the best of intentions, and how that will look in the future. We need to make informed decisions, we need to make decisions that involve the community, and that are community driven.
‘Because we do not want another Stolen Generation, and unfortunately at the moment we have more children being removed and put into out-of-home care than we have with the Stolen Generation.
‘So we need to be advocates for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. We need to stand up and we need to have a say.
‘This is why I continue to do the work that I do.
‘Because I want a better future for my children and for my grandchildren, and for my grandchildren to be safe and not be removed from their families.’
Dr Mark Daley
A GP at the First People’s Health and Wellbeing clinic in NSW, Dr Daley is described by Dr Nicholls as ‘passionate and committed to providing the highest quality of culturally safe, trauma-informed care to his patients, many of whom have some of the toughest and most complex health, social and emotional wellbeing issues as a result of colonisation, and the impacts of intergenerational trauma, dispossession and discrimination’.
‘He understands that for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people good health is more than the absence of disease or illness,’ Dr Nicholls said.
‘It’s a holistic concept. It includes physical, social, emotional, cultural and spiritual wellbeing for both the individual and the community.’
In his acceptance speech, Dr Daley thanked the college, his colleagues, as well as his wife and family for their support.
‘My job is the best job in the world,’ he said.
‘For this speech, I asked, “What should I talk about?”
‘What I was told was that the voices have always been there. It is our job to listen to them.’
Growing Strong Award – Dr Patrick McNamara
This award, which goes to a GP in training, went to Dr McNamara, who is one of only two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors in the Australian Defence Force.
‘He continuously strives to provide the highest care for Defence Force personnel, and goes above and beyond to ensure that healthcare received by Indigenous soldiers is safe and culturally appropriate,’ Dr Nicholls said.
‘I have no doubt Patrick has a bright future, both in defence and in rural and remote healthcare.’
In his speech, Dr McNamara thanked this mother, as well as clinicians who mentored and supported his progress, and the Indigenous General Practice Registrars Network, which he said helped him get through his training.
Medical Student Bursary – Loyola Wills
This year’s bursary went to Loyala Wills, a Torres Strait Islander woman and final year Flinders University medical student who runs an online platform called Med School Made Colourful.
Offering medical education support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, the project came from Ms Wills’ wish to show others the same backing she has received during her studies.
‘I had a lot of support from other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students who are ahead of me,’ she said on receiving the award.
‘They’ve all graduated now and they’re still an amazing support to my life.
‘I offer those resources for free to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, because it’s really important to me to support people through that.’
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