The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS) honors the late Dr. Arnold “Puggy” Hunter, an Aboriginal leader who made outstanding contributions to improving health outcomes for Indigenous Australians. Established by the Australian government in 2002, the PHMSS provides financial support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander undergraduate students pursuing health-related degrees.
The Legacy of Dr. Puggy Hunter
Dr. Arnold “Puggy” Hunter, an Aboriginal doctor and health advocate from the Bundjalung and Yaegl peoples, overcame adversity and discrimination to become one of the first Indigenous medical practitioners in Australia. Throughout his career, Puggy Hunter worked tirelessly to address the inequality in healthcare experienced by Aboriginal communities.
As Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) for over a decade, Puggy Hunter was instrumental in establishing Aboriginal-led primary healthcare services across Australia. His vision and dedication significantly improved access to culturally-appropriate healthcare for Indigenous peoples.
The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme continues Puggy Hunter’s mission to grow the number of Indigenous health professionals in order to close the gap in First Nations health outcomes.
Key Details About the PHMSS
The PHMSS offers financial support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students undertaking entry-level undergraduate degrees in health-related disciplines. The key details include:
To be eligible for a Puggy Hunter scholarship, applicants must:
- Identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
- Be accepted into an entry-level undergraduate degree in a health-related field of study
- Be studying full-time or part-time
- Up to $15,000 per year for full-time students
- Up to $7,500 per year for part-time students
- Funding is provided for the normal duration of the health degree
- Paid in 24 fortnightly installments throughout the study year
How to Apply
- Applications open annually in late August
- Applications close in early October
- Competitive application based on selection criteria
Why The PHMSS Matters
The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme makes a real difference in working towards equality in First Nations healthcare:
Supports Indigenous Students to Join the Health Workforce
The PHMSS provides critical financial aid so that Indigenous students can focus on completing their health degrees without financial burden. This allows more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to qualify as health professionals and join the workforce where they are sorely needed.
Helps Grow the Number of Indigenous Health Workers
With higher education costs prohibitive for many, scholarships like PHMSS enable more First Nations peoples to pursue health careers. More Indigenous health practitioners directly improves healthcare access and quality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Honors Puggy Hunter’s Legacy
By supporting the next generation of Indigenous health professionals, the PHMSS continues Puggy Hunter’s life mission to achieve health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It’s a fitting tribute to this visionary leader’s outstanding contributions.
“Puggy Hunter was an inspirational leader in promoting improvements in First Nations health and the scholarships are a fitting annual reminder of his outstanding legacy.” – Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward, CEO, Australian College of Nursing
Spotlight: PHMSS Recipient Stories
Past recipients of the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship highlight how this funding has empowered them to complete health degrees and pursue careers focused on improving Indigenous wellbeing:
Ellen, Bachelor of Nursing Graduate
Ellen had long aspired to become a nurse after overcoming her own health issues as a young child. During her nursing degree, the PHMSS allowed Ellen to reduce her paid work hours and focus more wholly on her demanding coursework and placements.
Now a qualified nurse, Ellen hopes to fulfill her goal of providing healthcare within Indigenous rural and remote areas. She pays tribute to the scholarships named after Puggy Hunter, saying: “I am grateful for all the health care professionals who supported me through the difficult times, and my experiences have ultimately shaped me into the nurse I am today.”
Ashleigh, Occupational Therapist
Ashleigh Ryan, a proud Wiradjuri and Bunjalung woman, recently completed her Occupational Therapy degree with first class Honours at the University of Sydney. Witnessing family health challenges and inequities growing up sparked her passion for Indigenous health.
The PHMSS funding in her final year proved critical in enabling Ashleigh to devote time to her intensive Honours research while working limited hours. She now commences her career as a paediatric occupational therapist with NSW Health. Ashleigh aspires to work with Indigenous communities to close the gap in First Nations health outcomes.
“Having university classes approximately 3-4 times a week plus the additional work commitments, the load became very stressful…Being granted the PHMSS allowed me to reduce my hours at work to 1-2 times per week, allowing me to focus on my studies and grades more.”
Shay, Registered Nurse
As a mother of three young children, Shay juggled family life with completing her Registered Nurse transition course. The Puggy Hunter funding helped alleviate financial stress during this demanding period by assisting Shay to reduce her work hours and focus more wholly on her healthcare studies.
Now graduating as a Registered Nurse, Shay is thrilled to commence practice in an area she finds incredibly rewarding. Her advice to others considering a career in health is: “Never give up and keep chipping away at the course work. It took me longer than I anticipated to complete my RN course, but I got there in the end!”
- The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme recognizes Dr. Arnold “Puggy” Hunter’s outstanding commitment to achieving equality in First Nations healthcare.
- PHMSS provides critical financial support for Indigenous undergraduate students to complete health degrees and join the workforce as qualified healthcare professionals.
- Growing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples working in health is key to closing the gap in Indigenous health outcomes.
- By enabling more First Nations students to undertake healthcare careers, the Puggy Hunter Scholarships create a positive ripple effect on Indigenous wellbeing across communities.
To find out more and apply for the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme, visit https://www.acn.edu.au/scholarships/indigenous-health-scholarships
The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme empowers Indigenous students to gain the qualifications and career opportunities to drive real change in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
Through supporting the next generation of First Nations health professionals, the PHMSS continues Dr. Arnold “Puggy” Hunter’s honourable legacy of advocating for and achieving health equality. It represents a small step towards reconciling past injustices – but nonetheless moves us forward in closing the gap.