Winning essay on Indigenous health

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Spring 6-9-2010

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle Campus

Publication Place



A winning essay on Indigenous health by medical student, Todd Cruikshank, of The University of Notre Dame Australia, has won him the opportunity to attend the General Practice Education and Training (GPET) Convention in Alice Springs, on 8-9 September 2010.

The General Practice Students Network (GPSN) competition, supported by GPET, Northern Territory General Practice Education (NTGPE) and Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), selected five candidates from across Australia who were best able to address the topic: Where should the Australian Government be focusing their efforts to ‘close the gap’ between the health outcomes of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and why?

Mr Cruikshank was selected by a panel of external judges, including GPET Senior Manager of Marketing and Communications, Anne Messenger, and VACCHO Project Officer, Summer Finlay, for the originality and creativity in his approach to the topic.

Reflecting on his submission, Mr Cruikshank said it was important to understand there was no single ‘magic’ cure for the problems experienced by many Indigenous communities.

“A good starting point would be to involve responsible and enthusiastic community minded Indigenous persons. Similar to medicine, the focus should be pragmatically focused on prevention, rather than a cure,” he said.

“I believe Aboriginal school-leavers should be encouraged to enter the health profession, and universities should open up and create more pathways for the training of Aboriginal Australians, in fields such as nursing, health education, allied health and medicine.”

Mr Cruikshank said he hoped his essay communicated the importance of identifying the most practical measures in determining positive outcomes for Indigenous health issues.

“As we look to ‘close the gap’, we need to make sure we are providing not only help, but also the right kind of help,” he said.

GPSN Chair, Kerry Summerscale, said Mr Cruikshank’s approach displayed pragmatism and positivity.

“It was very interesting to read Todd's pragmatic approach to addressing the inequities in health outcomes within the Indigenous population,” she said.

“I agree entirely that the adage 'prevention is better than cure' plays a very important role in encouraging and supporting Indigenous Australians in medicine and allied health, as a career path and also as role models within their communities.”

Ms Summerscale said she was pleased to see Mr Cruikshank’s positive approach in addressing the issue on a larger scale.

“I was very pleased to see such positive and enlightened discussion within the student body. It bodes well for our medical community future,” she said.

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