Serving as an army nursing officer in Iraq put Dr Justin Hunter on the path to becoming an award-winning GP in training.
Dr Hunter was recently named the 2020 recipient of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners’ Growing Strong Together Award that recognises an exceptional Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander GP in training.
Starting out as a rifleman in the Australian Army, Dr Justin Hunter is now a Lieutenant in the Royal Australian Navy, one of the first Aboriginal doctors in the Navy, and training to become a specialist GP at Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation.
“As a proud Indigenous man, it was also important that I give back to my community through working in an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service.
“The Aboriginal community health setting is unique, we offer home visits, specialist clinics and walk-in emergencies, complex chronic care, as well as allied health on site.
“I have great mentors that have supported me during my training at Tharawal,” Dr Hunter said.
Becoming a patrol medic sparked his interest in healthcare, which led to studying nursing.
“In 2008 I deployed to Iraq, where I worked closely with medical professionals from various nations and experienced firsthand how my skills could save lives in a war zone.
“The natural progression was for me to further my skills by studying medicine.
“The Navy has been very supportive of me throughout my study and training, I wouldn’t be here today without them.
“We need more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors in all aspects of medicine, but especially at a community level,” Dr Hunter said.
GP Synergy’s CEO Mrs Georgina van de Water said the training provider is currently supporting more than 40 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors undertaking specialist GP training across NSW and ACT
“We also work closely with the 33 Aboriginal medical services across NSW and ACT, including Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, accredited to deliver GP training,” Mrs van de Water said.
“Training doctors in Aboriginal health is an important part of closing the gap in the health inequities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.
“Those doctors training in an Aboriginal health setting find the experience invaluable from a learning perspective and rewarding as the Aboriginal health model is one based on teamwork and being part of the community,” she said.