Four Young Doctors from Adelaide had an amazing experience as they “shadowed” senior surgeon Dr Nick Reiger around Calvary Hospital. This was serious hands-on stuff, as they met with patients – including a new mother and her two-hour old baby (C section). Then they fully “scrubbed up” as Nick took them through a mock surgery in a fully equipped operating theatre. The Young Doctors played the role of anaesthetists, nurses, surgeons and learned the medical protocols and procedures for surgery.
Then it was off to a training room to learn how to remove skin cancer using needles, scalpels and then to suture the wound.
What a day! Huge thanks to Dr Nick and his amazing team.
“Blew me away” commented one of the Christies Beach Young Doctors after his visit to Pujatja and Uluru.
Our mob travelled way out to the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in South Australia – the APY Lands in northern South Australia - to visit their young Anangu friends. They learned lots of culture – painting, cooking, Dreaming stories from the Elders, language, bush medicine and heaps more.
What a trip!
Together more can be done
Including the hopes and needs of our Young Doctors in shaping government policy has always been important. Now we take a step up.
Malpa has just joined two important peak bodies. The National Rural Health Alliance and the Australian Council of Social Service. ACOSS is THE peak body supporting people affected by poverty, disadvantage and inequality, and for community services in general. The NRHA works to advocate for appropriate health services in rural and remote Australia.
Both bodies have welcomed our membership so that the voices of the children can be better heard.
The 80,000 crowd roared as Essendon took to the field for the AFL Indigenous Round. And the team was proudly wearing jerseys co-designed by a graduate Bubup Doctor, Yawuru child Momo Wilcox. Premier Dan Andrews texted “Most kids drawing end up on the fridge. But not these ones. Artwork by two Thornbury Primary School students have become the design for Essendon’s guernseys for the Dreamtime match”. And congratulations to Jackie Sinclair, who shared the designing.
In the last few years the district around Coraki in the NSW Northern rivers has been smashed by floods. People are still living in shipping containers and demountable “homes”. Now, St Joseph’s School is starting a Young Doctor project for 38 young people. They will learn all sorts of practical health and life skills to help them make the best of a terrible situation. We salute our leaders and the Young Doctors who have decided to be part of the solution and not be consigned to being part of the problem.
The NSW government reports that 13.8 million school days were lost in 2022 because of unexplained absences. But for Dubbo South’s Young Doctors' projects that’s not a problem. Even though the projects run on Friday afternoons school attendance rose by 60%! But don’t tell anyone.
If you have to go to hospital its best to do it when you are not sick. The Calvary Hospitals in Adelaide have hosted, and will continue to host, Young Doctor groups. Senior health staff share their knowledge and passion as they teach Young Doctors about everything from checking blood pressure to fixing a broken arm. These are perfect situations to start the YD’s thinking about what their future could be and already many have said they want to go into medicine. We thank everyone at Calvary for their generosity.
Uncle Jack Charles has died and everyone involved with Malpa is deeply saddened and feeling the loss.
JC, as he often called himself, was the face of Malpa for years and his face told the story of someone who had experienced grave injustices, but who chose to face life with optimism, courage and resolve.
He was a regular special guest at Young Doctor graduations in Melbourne where his presence always excited and delighted the kids. He was a man in touch with his inner-child but incredibly conscious of his role as an Elder among his people and to the wider nation.
JC was probably the most widely known and beloved Aboriginal man in the nation and we will miss his effervescent sparkle and his unstoppable determination.
Young Doctors are to be trained in Dubbo with two new projects starting in July. The leadership team has been trained and everything is ready after a fire burned half the school down just before Christmas. “With all the other pressures of COVID and lock downs, the fire really impacted on the students and staff. Young Doctors for Life will give the kids a chance to get things back on track,” according to Amy Welbourne who led the charge to start on Wiradjuri Country.
The roar of the 50,000 crowd at the MCG was heard as Essendon burst out of the race for the Indigenous round. They were also greeted by twenty Young Doctors (Bubup Doctors) who had been chosen to form a guard of honour and to dance. A night to remember! Malpa is also developing sessions for the Young Doctors to experience the role that health and medicine play in elite sports giving them opportunities to be trained by club doctors, nutritionists, physiotherapists and other medical staff so vital to the functioning of professional athletes. And another group of Young Doctors found themselves in the middle of celebrations at the Indigenous round of the national netball league. They had a ball.
The ravages of the floods on the NSW northern rivers continue to impact on the lives of everyone, not least the Bundjalung people. Now the Federal Government, through its organisation the National Indigenous Australians Agency, has invited Malpa to train one hundred Young Doctors in the Lismore (Tuckurimba) area. This will be intensely practical and the exact issues to be focussed on will be extensively workshopped by the community. We hope the new Young Doctors for Life will make a powerful contribution to developing resilience and spreading important health knowledge.
The Young Doctors for Life projects have just been showcased in one of the world’s leading medical journals, The Lancet.
Co-author El Newchurch-Papillo said, “This is an opportunity for our traditional and innovative approach to good health based on ancient Aboriginal ways to become widely known and they might even take root in other countries”.
You can view it HERE. It’s behind a paywall but Malpa will gladly send you a PDF on request.
After two years of uncertainly and following the on/off government rules, our projects for 2022 are
off to a flying start.
“It’s been a difficult time”, said Bubup Doctors Project Leader Mel Harrison. “Many of us even came
down with COVID ourselves. But the enthusiasm is high, and we just love doing this with the kids.”
Malpa is running more than forty projects this year training more than 600 Young Doctors.
Research has indicated that up to 50,00 children will disengage from education as the result of the
pandemic and most will never return to school. But the Young Doctors are rearing to go with many
exiting adventures ahead.
Every child deserves to know the sweet taste of success. So, we are especially thrilled that Woolworths has got behind Malpa. They supply every project with fresh fruit and vegies. The Young Doctors know how important good food is to their health and thanks to Woollies they get the chance to try all sorts of unusual fruit and vegetables. They all know that “you don’t have to like it but you have to try it” means they often discover amazing new things to eat.
Malpa leaders have delivered over 3,700 sessions. And over that time school attendance runs at up to 100%, according to leaders, with absentees only being due to real illness or Sorry Business. Just as importantly, Young Doctor attendance continues across the week.
One leader reports that kids who used to be a bit restless during school lunchtimes have now become real role models and leaders.
Since Malpa began we have had only two Young Doctors who were disruptive in their sessions. Because every project develops their own Code of Respect, the kids managed one incident themselves and resolved the issues. In the other it was more complex, but it was sorted out in days. We have had no school suspensions.
When asked why all this was happening, the explanation came back “Because we love what we do”.
Malpa’s first Public Service Announcement on TV is causing a real stir across the nation. Interest in new projects, offers of help from health professionals and even working with Monash University on a STEM project are just the tip of the iceberg. And the Young Doctors feel great pride that their work is celebrated across Australia on SBS and NITV. You can view it here. Uncle Jack Charles with the film crew – Josh and Katie Riordan. Picture taken by director Chris Riordan who used his mobile phone for the filming. Palya – thanks - goes to Uncle Jack, the film crew, Michael Newling at Venice Digital, Mark Tipple and the SBS Foundation.
The Bubup Doctors in Melbourne had a visit from Ambulance Victoria Paramedics and were trained in a range of emergency skills. One of them commented “I’m so excited to go in the ambulance. I am shaking.” Another said, “That was the best Malpa so far!” And there is much more to come in 2021. In fact, the Young Doctors across Australia have all bounced back from the restrictions of COVID-19 and are going full steam ahead. Even more leaders were inducted in Adelaide and it looks like a bumper year ahead for everyone.