Indigenous fellowships launched
24 June 2005
A new Fellowship at the University of Sydney aimed at supporting improvement in the health and welfare of Indigenous Australians will be launched by the Governor of NSW Professor Marie Bashir AC, on Monday 27 June at the University’s War Memorial Gallery.
Established through the generosity of Dr Rowan Nicks OBE and the late Lady Maisie Joyce Drysdale, with support from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, the Rowan Nicks Russell Drysdale Fellowship is awarded for up to 12 months and is designed to train and support potential leaders in Australian Indigenous health and welfare. The program is administered by the Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney and is awarded annually by the Dean of Medicine.
The Fellowship is available to fund either projects or activities that will serve indigenous communities or to fund individuals wishing to undertake training or education and represents a significant investment by Dr Nicks and the Sir Russell Drysdale family toward the improvement of the health and welfare of Australian Indigenous communities.
Dr Nicks, a New Zealander by birth, has lived in Australia since 1956. An eminent cardio-thoracic surgeon formerly based at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Dr Nicks is also a dedicated benefactor, supporting the education of health professionals through the provision of scholarships in countries such as Uganda, Tanzania, India, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
“After supporting health education overseas, I thought it was time I turned my attention to the health of Indigenous Australians,” says Dr Nicks, still sprightly in his 90s. “It is my hope that through this Fellowship we can work together to provide more equal health outcomes for all Australians.”
“My father’s paintings raised my awareness,” says Ms Lynne Clarke, the daughter of Sir Russell Drysdale and Lady Maisie Drysdale. “Rowan and I feel that there is so much to be done towards improving the health of indigenous Australians; this Fellowship is our contribution to grass-roots change.”
The 2005 Rowan Nicks Russell Drysdale Fellows share more than a passion for improving Indigenous health and welfare; they also coincidentally share a surname. Louise Lawler from Dubbo and Sarita Lawler from Brisbane have been named as this year’s Rowan Nicks Sir Russell Drysdale Fellows.
The Rowan Nicks Russell Drysdale Fellowship has allowed Dr Louise Lawler to investigate the issues that lead young Indigenous men to leave school early. “Time with these young men has really allowed me to better identify the problem and I am seeing the issue of school retention in a totally different light. Right now I am concentrating on strategies that will make the program sustainable in the long term and how we might develop preventative programs to achieve real outcomes.” Louise will be working with the University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine School of Rural Health in Dubbo during this project.
Sarita Lawler is undertaking her Fellowship as a fully funded student in the University of Sydney Faculty of Health Sciences where she is completing a Master of Sexual Health. Sarita identified the need for education in sexual health while teaching at Katherine High School. “Katherine has the highest rates of STIs in the Northern Territory and this was having a real impact on the lives of my students. This masters program will allow me to develop the skills and knowledge required to make a real difference to the sexual health of this community.”
For more information on the Fellowship visit: www.medfac.usyd.edu.au/nicksdrysdale/
Faculty Executive Officer
The Faculty of Medicine