Education key to Closing the Gap, says Indigenous doctor and Outstanding Alumnus

17 March 2022

Growing up in Mt Isa' Marjad Page was scared of the hospital.

"I remember sitting out the front of the hospital' and I remember Aunties and Uncles going in and never coming back out' and I remember being told don't go into that hospital because you won't come out' you will die'" he says.

"And yeah it was quite heartbreaking never seeing them come out. And that stays with you."

But the proud Kalkadoon' Waanyi and Gangaldida man was prepared to face fears' if it meant helping his people.

That purpose saw him achieve what seemed impossible' becoming a doctor and practicing on his Traditional Lands.

Recently recognised as CQUniversity's Outstanding Alumnus of the Year for 2022' Dr Page has shared his journey for CQUniversity podcast How to Change a Life.

The passionate health care leader says supportive education was key to his success' and is also what's needed to help Close the Gap for Indigenous health.

"The biggest thing for me for Closing the Gap' and obviously there's hundreds of thousands of things (that need to change)' but education on both sides is so important'" he told How to Change a Life.

"I really believe that sometimes we don't focus enough on Australians understanding First Nation ways."

Dr Page explains that First Nations ways are not merely cultural' but also religious - and Indigenous religious beliefs need to be respected.

"Would you walk into a church and carry on and break things? Most likely you wouldn't right? And so I think if you take that same approach to First Nations tribal areas' that's a good step. Because if you go onto First Nations Country and you go fishing' that's actually stealing'" he explains.

"So if (you) go into communities and don't have that respect' then wonder why we don't come to clinics? It's because you went onto their Land' you killed one of their pets' you went into their fridge and stole all their food… but then they don't come into the clinic and you say they don't care about their health?"

"Well actually no' it's that they don't like you now because you killed their pet and stole their food and didn't even ask to come in!"

Dr Marjad began his study journey at CQUniversity' moving to Rockhampton to take on his Bachelor of Human Movement Science.

And he credits the support of lecturers and tutors across his degree with empower him to pursue his medical career.

"If it wasn't for them I honestly believe I wouldn't have graduated' and I wouldn't have become a doctor. CQU allowed for me to be in the position I am – for example I did one assignment when I was in high school' I didn't know how to reference properly'" he says.

Learn more about Dr Page's work and his Alumnus Award here' and listen to his How to Change a Life episode' and more life-changing stories.