Featured image: From left to right, ACN President Emeritus Professor Christine Duffield FACN, Emily Hunter, Matilda Pascoe and ACN CEO Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN at the 2022 National Nursing Forum in Darwin.
About the scholarship
The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS) is celebrating its 20-year anniversary this year! Established in 2002 in recognition of the late Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter’s outstanding contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, the PHMSS encourages and assists undergraduate students in health-related disciplines to complete their studies.
The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) has proudly administered the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme on behalf of the Australian Government, Department of Health and Aged Care.
Since its inception, the scholarship has seen more than 7000 applications and awarded more than 2200 scholarships.
There are currently 389 students working hard to complete their courses to become qualified health professionals. It won’t be long until they are out in their communities helping to improve the health outcomes not only for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples but for all Australians.
“If you want to be involved in Aboriginal health, my best advice honestly is to involve Aboriginal people in a true partnership.” Puggy Hunter
The tireless work of Puggy Hunter
One of Australia’s most outstanding Aboriginal leaders, Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter, devoted most of his life to improving the state of Aboriginal Health in Australia. He took his fight to government offices, Parliamentary inquiries, and at the grassroots level.
Dr Hunter was:
- Inaugural chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), the peak body for Aboriginal-controlled health services.
- Deputy chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Council.
- Chairman of the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Council for many years.
- Awarded Human Rights Medal, 2001.
As a result of a growing interest in Aboriginal community development and youth, Dr Hunter completed studies in Aboriginal community development at the University of South Australia. He subsequently took up a position with WA’s State Welfare Department and the Warringari Aboriginal Corporation in 1982. Working with families in crisis, child neglect, physical abuse and the results of poverty and exclusion, Dr Hunter became aware that the best way to address problems facing Aboriginal communities was to involve Aboriginal people in policies and decision-making that directly affected them.
In 1991, Dr Hunter was elected the national Chairperson of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO). In this role, he was able to drive Federal Government policy on Aboriginal health issues and encourage advances to address the inequitable funding of Aboriginal health including:
- the Framework Agreements on Aboriginal health
- Medicare agreements to give Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services the legal ability to bulk bill
- helping to negotiate the Section 100 arrangements for the supply of medication under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, through Aboriginal health services in remote areas.
The beginnings of the scholarship and carrying on a legacy
Dr Hunter’s daughter, Emily Hunter was among the inaugural recipients of the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship in 2002. She said that this scholarship was an enormous help to her and her family as she worked towards completing her studies. Emily began work at Broome Hospital as a Graduate Registered Nurse in 2004 and has been there ever since. For the past 16 years, she has also worked in Emergency Nursing and today is one of the two most senior Aboriginal nurses working in the Kimberley helping to support and grow the nursing profession in the region.
“Watching my father in, his tireless fight into Aboriginal health I wanted to contribute. I decided to enrol in a Bachelor of Nursing at Notre Dame University. This was the best decision.” Emily Hunter
While Emily has been offered other positions, she has decided to stay in the public sector to ensure there are Aboriginal people to support Aboriginal Community Controlled Services and are there at the table for when people come into the hospital. “I make sure that they receive special care with having a holistic approach to their health care.” Emily and her family are grateful to ACN for the successful administration of the scholarship for 20 years.
“For people to still know the existence of my father’s work I am very humble and grateful.” Emily Hunter
This article was originally published in the Summer 2022 edition of ACN’s quarterly member publication The Hive. Members can access all past editions of The Hive on neo. Non-members can get a sneak peek by viewing our open-access articles.
You can learn more about the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme and register your interest for future intakes on our First Nations health scholarships page.
- NACCHO NEWS (2001). A Special Tribute Edition, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation