A Daley Labor Government to support Shalom Gamarada

March 4, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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A Daley Labor Government – as part of its Aboriginal Affairs policy – will fund up to six scholarships for Indigenous medical doctors through a highly successful program sponsored by Sydney’s Jewish community and Shalom College at the University of NSW.

Dr Hilton Immerman with previous Shalom Gamarada graduates

The formal announcement was made by NSW Labor leader Michael Daley, NSW Shadow Health Minister and NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel deputy chair Walt Secord, NSW Shadow Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Harris and Aunty Norma Ingram, the Labor candidate for Newtown – as part of NSW Labor’s official Aboriginal Affairs election platform announced on March

The Shalom Gamarada Indigenous Residential Scholarship Program assists Australian Indigenous students to pursue university study, particularly in the field of medicine. The program takes its name from the Hebrew for “peace” and Eora for “friend” or “comrade”. It certainly represents a unique friendship between these two New South Wales communities—the Jewish and Aboriginal communities. It provides residential scholarships to Indigenous students at the University of New South Wales’ Shalom College, the Jewish residential college.

(Currently, the Western NSW Local Health District has already agreed to sponsor an annual scholarship joining a number of other groups such as foundations, corporations, individual donors and groups of donors.)

Michael Daley

As part of the Aboriginal Affairs policy, NSW Labor will negotiate a Treaty or Treaties with the First Peoples of the State; appoint an Aboriginal Affairs Advocate for Children and Young People;  adopt the principles of Justice Reinvestment; make a formal apology to victims of state-sanctioned massacres in NSW; move the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to Premier and Cabinet; fund the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG); return Me-Mel (Goat Island) to its traditional owners as a priority; deliver dedicated Aboriginal Cultural and Heritage Act; establish a Myall Creek massacre education and cultural centre; and fly the Aboriginal Flag on the Harbour Bridge.

The Shalom Gamarada Indigenous Residential Scholarship Program has been successful in its goal to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians through higher education and by increasing the number of Indigenous professionals, especially in the critical area of Indigenous health. It was co-founded in 2005 by Ms Ilona Lee, AM, and Professor Lisa Jackson-Pulver, AM. The program provides safe accommodation on campus, healthy meals, tutoring and encouragement to assist scholarship holders to stay the course, finish assignments and pass examinations throughout their university career.

The program’s first graduate was Dr Beth Kervin in 2009.  As of January 2019, there have been 48 Shalom Gamarada Indigenous graduates, including 24 doctors, one optometrist and one exercise physiologist.

Walt Secord

The program has a completion rate of more than 70% – compared to an average university completion rate of 47 per cent for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Australia.

A Daley Labor Government would provide $480,000 over four years to fund the scholarships – at $20,000 per student per year.

In NSW, there are 15 local health districts. Those likely to provide students for the scholarships will come from: Far West LHD; Western Sydney LHD; South Western Sydney LHD; Hunter-New England LHD; Northern NSW LHD: and Southern NSW LHD. The final locations would be determined in conjunction with the geographical locations of the nominating students.

Federal Department of Health data shows that there are more than 86,000 medical practitioners in Australia and there are about 270 who identify as Indigenous. A simple calculation shows that this program has helped nearly 10 per cent of all of Australia’s indigenous doctors.

NSW Labor leader Michael Daley said: “Labor has always acknowledged the unique cultural heritage of the First Peoples as a priority.

The Liberals and Nationals have spent eight years paying lip service to policies in Aboriginal Affairs but they haven’t made any substantive policy or legislative changes.”

It’s important that a NSW Labor Government continues to build on the existing relationship with the NSW Aboriginal community to achieve lasting generational change.”

The Chair of Shalom Gamarada Ilona Lee told J-Wire: I am delighted that NSW Labor has recognised the value of the Shalom Gamarada Indigenous Scholarship Program by pledging funding for up to 6 medical students over 4 years. The program has been operating since 2005 and has produced 48 Indigenous graduates in a range of professions. Funding has been an ongoing issue and securing these scholarships will ensure that we can continue the important work of increasing the number of Indigenous doctors in Australia.

Walt Secord added:  “I have been supporting this program for a number of years and it is a pleasure to announce that a Daley Labor Government will support six more scholarships.

I want to be a future Health Minister who provides practical and tangible programs which close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

As a young bi-cultural man growing up on a First Nation settlement in southern Canada, I know first-hand the challenges these students face when they move away from their communities and attend university.”

David Harris said:  “Make no mistake, Shalom Gamarada changes lives. It provides practical support to Indigenous students who want to become doctors.

Unfortunately, university completion rates for Indigenous students in Australia are far too low, but Shalom Gamarada has a completion rate of more than 70 per cent. It is a remarkable program.

It has been highly successful in its goal to help close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia.”


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