A NURSING student from the University of New England has won the prestigious Freddy Fricke education scholarship.
Gunbayngirri woman Maddison Smart was awarded the scholarship to further her nursing studies and her interest in indigenous education.
Ms Smart said she was thrilled to receive the support.
“I really love studying nursing and this will help me with the costs of textbooks and placements,” she said.
Now in her second year at UNE, Ms Smart is one of two recipients statewide to receive the scholarship from the NSW Aboriginal Land Council.
As a teenager, Ms Smart said she was shocked to learn about ‘the gap’ in life expectancy between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
“I’m so passionate about Closing the Gap because it’s going to affect me and my community as well,” she said.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that the average life expectancy gap between Indigenous Australians and the rest of the population is 10.6 years.
But this figure is a target set for males born between 2010 and 2012.
The current average is closer to two decades and since the Closing the Gap campaign began, it has failed to meet most targets.
Ms Smart said more services were needed in rural and remote Australian if things were to change.
“There is such a lack of services available in rural and remote communities,” she said.
Ms Smart plans to major in indigenous health and then work in remote Australian.
“I am already volunteering at my local medical service in Bowraville during the school holidays,” she said.
Oorala Aboriginal Centre student services officer Tonia Ryan said Maddison deserved the scholarship and encouraged others young people in the community to explore studying a university degree.
“The Freddy Fricke Scholarship is an amazing scholarship and will help her through the duration of her nursing degree,” she said.
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