Kimberley pastoralists open homes to Notre Dame med students

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Winter 17-8-2011

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle Campus

Publication Place



Pastoralists in Western Australia’s Kimberley region will open their homes to Notre Dame Medicine students despite still feeling the ramifications of a recent live cattle export ban to Indonesia.

Vice President of the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australia, Ruth Webb-Smith, said Notre Dame’s presence in the Kimberley would give cattle station owners and their families something to smile about on the back of recent challenges.

Almost 100 second year medical students from the Fremantle Campus will pack their bags for the Kimberley on Saturday, August 20, as part of the cultural immersion program in the School of Medicine.

They will spend eight days in locations near the towns of Derby and Fitzroy Crossing. Approximately one third of these students will be based on pastoral stations with others to be situated in remote Aboriginal communities.

As part of the program, all students will take part in a cultural and linguistic workshop which is provided by Aboriginal people from the Kimberley Interpreting Service. They will also have a tour of the old leprosarium, speak with Kimberley-based medics and visit health services in Derby before spending five days doing work for their hosts.

Students perform services including cleaning cattle troughs, caring for the disabled and reading with school children. These activities will allow them to learn the skills required for ‘thriving’ in remote Australia by connecting personally with the experts – the local people.

Ms Webb-Smith, who spoke to Notre Dame’s Medicine students in early August, says she’s proud of the continuing relationship between the University and communities in the Kimberley.

“I hope the Notre Dame students bring a little bit of light, fun, youth, happiness and add a different dimension to what the pastoralists in the Kimberley are currently experiencing,” Ms Webb-Smith said.

“The lovely outcome of all this is the breaking down of barriers for students to understand what the situation is out in the rural and remote areas of Australia.

“We hope that they may return to be part of those communities.”

Rural Representative for the Medical Student Association of Notre Dame, Cameron Crothers-Stomps, is humbled by the opportunity to learn about the way of life in country WA.

“We’re really enthusiastic about heading to the Kimberley and making it a really positive week for the cattle farmers during this hard time,” Mr Crothers-Stomps said.

“It’s a bit of an eye-opener to step out of the city.

“The experience will contribute to a greater understanding of the medical needs that exist in rural Western Australia.”

Head of Population and Preventative Health at the School of Medicine in Fremantle, Professor Donna Mak, says she is “incredibly grateful and thankful” that pastoralists are opening their hearts and homes to Notre Dame students at a difficult time.

Professor Mak said the strong support from students and hosts for the program gave her confidence that the University’s unique approach of training medical graduates to provide better health care for people in country areas is a move in the right direction.

Media Contact: Leigh Dawson (+61) 8 9433 0569, Mob (+61) 0405 441 093