Investing in the future: Wavelength’s role in closing the gap

Transforming Australian healthcare through education

6 min | News

As Wavelength celebrates its 25th anniversary, we reflect on the transformative impact we’ve had on Australian healthcare. One of our proudest initiatives is the Wavelength UNSW scholarship program, which enables an Aboriginal medical student to continue their medical studies and travel to another part of Australia to complete an elective placement. We’re committed to not just placing doctors but actively contributing to the improvement of healthcare in Indigenous communities. 

Over the years, this scholarship program has evolved to adapt to the changing needs of Indigenous medical students. Initially, it started as a one-off $5,000 donation to cover travel costs or placement expenses. As of 2023, the scholarship offers $25,000 in support per year for up to six years. 

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying medicine in Australia increased from 265 in 2014 to over 400 in 2022. This growth is a testament to the collaborative efforts of educators, universities, and organisations like the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association (AIDA) to inspire more Indigenous Australians to consider medicine as a viable career path. Destiny Kynuna, one of the 2018 scholarship recipients says that the support she received helped her travel back to her indigenous community in Queensland during the academic year. During this time, she had the opportunity to encourage others in her community to consider pursing medicine. “Even my own nieces and nephews are now thinking about doing medicine,” said Destiny in an ABC article. “Whereas before, maybe if I wasn’t doing medicine, they wouldn’t think about it.” 

However, these challenges continue to persist and the healthcare gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is still very much prevalent. For Patrick Kerrigan, 2022’s scholarship recipient, his first-hand experiences on placement emphasise the need for Indigenous doctors, especially in regions and communities most impacted by shortages.  

“Being Indigenous myself, I know there are lots of health differences and there’s the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. I recognised I wanted to play a role in reducing that gap by helping Indigenous people.” 

He’s identified that there’s not only a need for more doctors working in Indigenous health, but a need for more Indigenous doctors as well. “Things like scholarships are just amazing, as are programs that provide extra help to Indigenous kids to study medicine and become a doctor because in the long run, they’ll be very beneficial for Indigenous health,” Patrick said.  

Throughout our years of service, we’ve recognised our role in bridging healthcare gaps. This scholarship serves as a part of Wavelength’s mission to shape the healthcare sector. John Bethell, Co-Founder of Wavelength said, “Giving to UNSW is about supporting cutting-edge research, creating equality of opportunity for students and establishing partnerships that positively impact our community and the wider world”.  

As we embark on our 26th year and set our sights on the future, we acknowledge that there’s still more work to be done. Our scholarship initiative is only one of the ways we’re working towards creating a healthcare sector that’s accessible, equitable and culturally competent for all Australians. Here’s to the next 25 years of making a difference! 


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