THE Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) 2020 Growing Stronger Together Award has gone to Dr Justin Hunter, a Wiradjuri man who grew up on Gumbaynggirr country and started his training here.
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The Growing Strong Together Award recognises an exceptional Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander GP in training.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Awards are for going above and beyond to care for their patients and communities.
Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Professor Peter O’Mara congratulated Mr Hunter.
“This year’s recipients are truly exceptional and an inspiration for our profession.
“Australia needs more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors like Dr Hunter – his hard work and passion have resulted in significant achievements at a very early stage in what I am sure will be a long and successful career.
“When it comes to closing the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes, GPs play a significant role but are rarely recognised for their work and achievements.
“These awards are an opportunity for us to highlight the best of the best, and inspire the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.”
Dr Hunter grew up in Coffs Harbour, attended Toormina High School, was an army cadet here for six years and graduated from Notre Dame in 2017.
During his medical degree he did his work placements at Galambila Coffs Harbour Aboriginal Medical Service, and developed relationships with the local Gumbaynggirr community, igniting his passion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
“When I was working at Galambila it inspired me to do primary health care and GP training,” Dr Hunter said.
“While I was there I met a Aboriginal prisoner from Grafton Gaol who found out I was Aboriginal and he teared up as he had never known an Aboriginal doctor and had been told Aborigines weren’t smart enough,” he said.
Dr Hunter recalls being written off himself for being Aboriginal and told that he would never amount to much.
“I wish they could see me now.
“In Australia now we have just over two hundred Aboriginal doctors which is great,” he said.
“But we can do much better.”
Dr Hunter now works as a Medical Officer in the Royal Australian Navy, and is eager to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors in the defence force through mentorship.
By Sandra MOON