Important update

Starting 1 July 2024, the administration of the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme will transition to Indigenous Allied Health Australia. There will be no disruption for current scholarship holders, and all existing commitments will be honoured. For enquiries between now and 30 June, please contact

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website may contain images and names of people who have since passed away.

Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme

The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS) is designed to encourage and assist undergraduate students in health-related disciplines to complete their studies and join the health workforce. The scheme provides scholarships for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people studying an entry level health course.

The Australian Government established the Scheme as a tribute to the late Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter’s outstanding contribution to First Nations Australians’ health and his role as Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO). NACCHO News – special tribute edition provides an insight to Puggy and his tireless efforts to improve Aboriginal health.

Puggy Hunter scholarship


Applications closed.

Eligible health areas

  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander primary health care
  • Dentistry/oral health (excluding dental assistants)
  • Mental health studies
  • Nursing (RN & EN)
  • Midwifery
  • Medicine
  • Allied health (excluding pharmacy)

Examples of eligible study areas.

Eligibility criteria

Applications will be considered from applicants who are:

  • of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent
    Applicants must identify as and be able to confirm their Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status.
  • enrolled or intending to enrol in an entry level or graduate entry level health related course
    Courses must be provided by an Australian registered training organisation or university. Funding is not available for postgraduate study.
  • intending to study in the academic year that the scholarship is offered.

A significant number of applications are received each year; meeting the eligibility criteria will not guarantee applicants a scholarship offer.

Please note: You do not need to be currently enrolled in a course to complete a scholarship application, you simply need to be intending to enrol in semester one 2024, at any accredited course provider in Australia.

Selection criteria

These are competitive scholarships and will be awarded on the recommendation of the independent selection committee whose assessment will be based on how applicants address the following questions:

  • Describe what has been your driving influence/motivation in wanting to become a health professional in your chosen area.
  • Discuss what you hope to accomplish as a health professional in the next 5-10 years.
  • Discuss your commitment to study in your chosen course.
  • Outline your involvement in community activities, including promoting the health and well-being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people.

The scholarships are funded by the Australian Government, Department of Health and Aged Care and administered by the Australian College of Nursing. The scheme was established in recognition of Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter’s significant contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and his role as Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.

Value of scholarship

Funding is provided for the normal duration of the course. Full time scholarship awardees will receive up to $15,000 per year and part time recipients will receive up to $7,500 per year. The funding is paid in 24 fortnightly instalments throughout the study period of each year.

Stories from Scholarship Recipients

Ellen Archer

My name is Ellen and I have just completed my degree in a Bachelor of Nursing at the Australian Catholic University, Banyo. I chose to pursue a career in nursing as it was something I had aspired to do since my senior years of high school. Through an outreach program that my school offered called Sony Camp, I was a carer for a disabled child and this experience sparked my interest in a degree in nursing. This experience also led me to become a Personal Support Worker for Spinal Life Australia where I supported clients in the community who had a spinal cord injury. This role allowed me to gain a further appreciation for the human body as I gained a deeper understanding of how to support and move a compromised body, which has in turn allowed me to implement these practices in the clinical setting. I have always had a genuine interest in the health and wellbeing of others and that has stemmed from my own health battles as a young child. 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.

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I was fortunate enough to be granted the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS) in 2019 and was supported over the three years of my degree. The PHMSS allowed me to drop down from working two jobs to only one, which reduced my workload and therefore stress in trying to manage a work life balance. This reflected positively in my university work and enabled me to achieve the results I was hoping for. I also had peace of mind knowing I was financially stable during my placements, as I still received PHMSS payments throughout these periods. It is difficult to put into words how grateful I am for the support from the PHMSS; however, this opportunity has resonated with me that you should give everything in life a go and know that hard work and determination does pay off.

Since finishing my degree, I have received a new graduate position at The Prince Charles Hospital in an Orthopaedic ward. I am extremely thankful to be given this opportunity and it has given me the validation that nursing and caring for people is my passion. I hope to create a foundation of knowledge, skills and abilities to one day in the future pursue a career in rural nursing. I intend to work within indigenous communities promoting indigenous health and welfare, to address the health inequality and disparities of this community. Nursing is something that I am extremely passionate about, and I am proud to work alongside other healthcare workers in the hope I have impacted my patient’s life for the better.

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Shaydeen Stocker

I am Shay, I am in my late 30s, married and my husband works fly-in-fly-out.  Together we have three young children, two boys aged 8 and 7 and a little girl who is 3. Prior to having children, I worked as an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Advisor in the Mining and also Oil and Gas Industries.

My previous OHS experience has proven advantageous to my change of career in Nursing. I decided to try nursing while I was on maternity leave from my OHS job as I enjoyed the “health” side of my role and was eager to gain practical skills as a health officer. As I wasn’t sure if nursing was a good fit for me, I went with the shorter course and completed the Diploma of Enrolled Nursing in 2015.

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I then decided to go on to complete the conversion to become a Registered nurse while I was pregnant with my third child. Juggling young children with study was certainly challenging, but the Puggy Hunter Scholarship gave me financial security to assist with childcare, books and other study materials. My advice for others who are thinking of starting a career in health or are currently studying is to 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!

I am starting my RN Grad program at SJOG in Midland in February and since swapping careers, I have wondered why I didn’t start nursing sooner! I am really keen to get started and am sincerely grateful for the support from the PHMSS.

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Ashleigh Ryan
Ashleigh Ryan

My name is Ashleigh Ryan and I’m a proud Wiradjuri and Bunjalung women. I have recently completed a Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) (Honours) at the University of Sydney. Health is something I have always been passionate about, I’d say this would have been sparked from watching my late Great Grandfather treat my family using natural and traditional medicine practices when I was younger. This interest turned into an awareness as a grew older. I started to become aware of the health inequities that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face and how this was impacting my family and our communities. I chose occupational therapy as I felt this degree incorporated the most holistic approach to health in that it was concerned with mental, social and physical aspects of health.

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I was lucky enough to be granted the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme during my third year of university. Prior to this, I was working approximately 4 times a week which helped with funding university related expenses such as textbooks and supplies, a computer and travel. Having university classes approximately 3-4 times a week plus the additional work commitments, the load became very stressful and I felt I did not have enough time to study or put effort into my university work. 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, which significantly increased. This particularly made a difference in my final year of study when I was completing my honours thesis. Without the PHMSS, I don’t believe I would have been able to put the time and effort in to achieving my goal of first class honours.

My short-term goal once I had finished university was to find full time work as an occupational therapist, preferably with NSW Health. I have been fortunate enough to be offered a position with NSW Health as a community paediatric occupational therapist, which commences February 2020. A long-term goal for me is to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, either as a clinician or as a researcher. I look forward to seeing where my journey as an occupational therapists takes me! For anyone thinking of starting a career in health, definitely do it. A career in health is not only rewarding, but you also have the opportunity to influence and change the health system to be more equitable and inclusive of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people.

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Tom Rout
Tom Rout

I first decided that I wanted to work in psychology after seeing a number of people in my life experiencing mental health issues. I found the increased rates of mental health difficulties among Indigenous people extremely concerning, and thought this could be an area where I could help to ‘Close The Gap’. It is my goal to work in the Shoalhaven region of New South Wales where there is a large population of Indigenous Australians, as well as Elders of Yuin country, where I come from.

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The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship significantly reduced financial stress associated with being a student and allowed me to devote most of my time to studying instead of working. I was even able to put some of the funding towards my HECS. I would strongly recommend anybody fortunate enough to have earned this scholarship to budget their payments so they aren’t required to work much and can focus on their studies. Now that I’ve completed my Honours, I am commencing a PhD in psychology which will provide me with further advanced training in the field of psychological research and practice so that I can be fully qualified to help people experiencing mental health problems.

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