My name is Simone and I’m born and bred in the NT. I knew from an early age that I wanted to go to Uni and do a job that helped people. It was hard leaving my home and being away from family and friends, but it in the end it was worth it.
Now I’m back working as an intern doctor in Darwin. Some days it’s really confronting, but I love it because I get to help people. My people, my community. Studying through higher education made that possible, so go on, visit thinkyourway.edu.au
My name is Simone Liddy and I’m from Darwin, Northern Territory and I’m a Doctor at the Royal Darwin Hospital. I’m a Darwin girl born and bred here and my dad’s from, was born in Darwin as well, and he’s Aboriginal and my mum came across to Australia from India when she was quite young and she grew up in both Darwin and Brisbane. I always knew I wanted to do further education at university because I knew that I wanted to have a good job and set a good career for myself.
My Mum and Dad they didn’t have the opportunities that I had, so neither of them finished their secondary schooling but they worked extremely hard, doing multiple jobs to make sure that my sister and I were able to have the best education possible and the most opportunities available to us. I also wanted to make my parents proud and show them that I could work really hard and make all those opportunities and all that hard work that they put in to us as well, so that I can also look after them when you know, when they’re older too.
The process I took to enrol into university was first to get some career advice from the career educators at secondary schooling and they can help you with any paper work or any enrolment issues that you have and then to lodge it into the university. So make sure that you aren’t afraid to ask for help while you are in secondary schooling to career advisors or teachers.
The main challengers that I faced going to university, firstly would be when I was studying my bachelor of medicine/ bachelor of surgery I studied it interstate, so being away from home, from my family, my usual support networks I found really tough especially in the beginning. Even just the simple things like traffic interstate that we don’t generally have in Darwin and finding my way around and finding new friends. I just found it really daunting, with the hard study on top of that made it quite difficult for me.
The other hardest thing I found as well was the different type of study. So studying at university level is very different than studying at school. I was always told by my teachers and family friends that the hardest part would be completing year twelve but I actually found tertiary study to be a lot more challenging and difficult. I got a bit of a shock to the system when I first went into university. Even just being able to find out your timetables, instead of just getting your timetables handed to you at school. You know having to look it up yourself and find out where each room is and it’s a lot bigger than your schooling where you know your school quite well.
When you first go to university it’s just a whole new world and it’s quite scary but stick with it. I got through the first 6 months and it was smooth sailing from then. I definitely accessed the Indigenous Support Unit*. I found it extremely valuable with transitioning into university studies, so just having a friendly face to orientate you to the Uni, to show you also where things are or for you to be able to ask whatever questions you have. They also have computers and a tea room and other little advantages so make sure you do access the Indigenous Support Unit*.
The other thing that I would strongly advise any other Indigenous students who are wanting to go onto further study is to access the ITAS scheme, so that’s the Indigenous Tutorial Access Scheme, which is tutoring from peers who maybe are a few years above you or who are already working in the area that you’re interested in and that’s really valuable to, first to orient you to the university, to show you how to start studying for your degree or you know to give you some advice on what’s to come and to just help you transition into university studies.
I’ve also made lifelong friends with the tutors that have tutored me throughout my degree and I wished that I hadn’t waited you know 6 months into my course to start the tutoring. I would say make sure you start straight away to help with the transition rather than having to, realising you’re struggling a bit later and having to go over things and back track.
I was very privileged to receive a cadetship from my pharmacy degree which helped both financially as well as involved doing some work placements in my field of study. I also during my medicine degree received a scholarship with the Puggy Hunter Scholarship which provided me financial support and then in my last two years I was able to get a cadetship with Department of Health which helped me financially and with work experience as well.
To others who are thinking about going to university I would say first to find a passion. It really helps if you’re passionate about whatever you’re studying. So I found that I really enjoyed the sciences at school and that’s what got me into pharmacy and then I really like people. I like talking to people about where they come from and how they’re doing and I like helping people as well so I found you know I then wanted to go onto further study to complete medicine and become a doctor.
I think all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students should definitely consider taking up further studies and going onto tertiary studies. Firstly, you’re going to make your family and your community proud and to be able to go back and give back to your community and help as well is another thing and help your own people as well is something that is extremely satisfying. As well as also securing your own future for your own family as well, having a good job at the end and knowing that you’re going to be able to provide for your family is also, you know, providing yourself a good future.
*Note: each university may refer to their local Indigenous support services in different ways e.g. Indigenous Education Units; Indigenous Support Units; School of Indigenous Australian Studies; Indigenous Institute etc., and may include Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander language in the naming title, as relevant to the local area.
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Being motivated by an unrelenting drive to give back to her community and care for her people, meant Simone – a young Darwin woman through and through – had to come to terms with the reality of leaving home for a number of years to study medicine. In her words “just dealing with city traffic” was hard enough, let alone the very real challenges of supporting yourself emotionally and physically while undertaking hard core tertiary studies. Now back home and working as an intern at the public hospital, Simone finds her new career confronting at times but wouldn’t change it for the world. She’s at home with her family, friends and importantly, her people.