Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) alumni

Yooroang Garang is the centre of Indigenous student support at Cumberland Campus. The unit provides support programs such as the Special Admission (Cadigal) Program and the Aboriginal Health Sciences Science Support program. The centre has provided a range of facilities to Indigenous alumni studying at the Faculty of Health Sciences to support their study on campus.

There have been 59 Indigenous Allied Health Graduates since 1992 with the majority graduating as physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

In 2010, Dr Reuben Bolt became the first Indigenous Australian student to graduate with a doctorate degree from the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Indigenous alumni profile

Chontel Gibson

Chontel Gibson, Bachelor of Health Science (Occupational Therapy) 2000

Chontel is a proud Aboriginal woman belonging to the Kamilaroi people, with strong connections to family and community. Chontel is acknowledged as the first Aboriginal woman to complete her degree and start working as an occupational therapist.

Chontel has fond memories of studying at University of Sydney, including the strong connections formed with both staff and students of the Yooroang Garang: Indigenous Student Support Unit. Yooroang Garang provided a place where Aboriginal and Toress Strait Islander students come together to support each other, as well as receive academic support via the Cadigal Program. Many ex- Cadigal Program students maintain their friendships and connections formed in Yooroang Garang. Some students, including Chontel offer their support to Yooroang Garang by tutoring and mentoring current students. Chontel, like many other students from Yooroang Garang speak very highly of the Cadigal Program and the support that it offers to students.

Since graduating Chontel has worked in various occupational therapy departments and positions, nationally and internationally making substantial contributions to the profession. She has also contributed to the health and well being of Aboriginal people through her work and also as a community member. Chontel has recently completed her Masters of Public Health and now works as a Senior Policy Officer for the NSW Health Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Office Older People's Mental Health Policy Unit.

Some highlight s from Chontel's careers include her significant contribution to the NSW Health Aboriginal Older Peoples' Mental Health Project; development and implementation of a rural and remote prioritisation tool for occupational therapy, a first of its kind; development of the first 'virtual' occupational therapy department to support isolated clinicians; selected to be the area health's representative on the NSW Health Occupational Therapy Advisor Network meetings; elected deputy chairperson for the Indigenous Allied Health Network and elected the inaugural deputy chairperson for the Indigenous Allied Health Association.