The spirit of NAIDOC

ACEM trainee Ryan Dashwood, Budawang man- from the Yuin Nation of the NSW South Coast, talks about his journey into emergency medicine.
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Up until 1967 in Australia, Australian Indigenous people were considered flora and fauna. For Ryan Dashwood, ACEM trainee and a Budawang man- from the Yuin Nation of the NSW South Coast, the very fact that he has a University Education and is a practicing physician is a complete “game changer”.
But there is still a long way to go.
“So many health care workers in Australia have no idea about the cultural diversity of Indigenous Australia such as the many different language groups,” he said, “Understanding of culture is a start to helping bridge the gap of making Hospitals a safe place for our people.”
When Ryan started off at the University of Sydney, two Indigenous medical students in the year above him tracked him down and introduced him into the wider world of Indigenous medical networking, and signed him up for the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association.
“Just knowing they were there made me feel more comfortable as well as their experience and guidance helping me along the way,” he said.
Ryan has now become quite the mentor himself.
“I try to extend that welcoming hand to all my fellow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cousins entering the medical world, be it medical school or as a junior doctor,” Ryan said.
Ryan is also a recipient of ACEM’s Joseph Epstein Scholarship, which supports Indigenous Advanced Emergency Medicine trainees and aims to increase the number of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori specialists in emergency medicine in Australia and New Zealand.
“The majority of Indigenous doctors enter the world of general practice for various reasons, with the college offering financial assistance hopefully this will encourage others to follow their dream and passion to stick with emergency medicine training,” he said.
The first week of July marks NAIDOC week. NAIDOC week brings Australian​s from all walks of life together to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
To Ryan, it is a chance to look to the future.
“I am a strong believer in recognising the past as the first step in working together now in the present to better our future,” he said, “NAIDOC celebrations offer an opportunity for everyone to get together, no matter what your cultural background, embrace our Indigenous culture and celebrate how far we have come as a people.”
Make sure you take the opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community this week.

You can find out more about NAIDOC week here.