Sydney Morning Herald
The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students has increased dramatically in the past decade and now matches the ratio of indigenous to non-indigenous people in Australia for the first time.
Last year, 80 of Australia's 3241 domestic first year medical students were indigenous - 2.5 per cent, up from 0.8 per cent in 2004. The milestone is being celebrated by medical deans and the Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association because 2.5 per cent of Australia's population is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.
"This is a huge step forward," said the president of the Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association, Peter O'Mara. However, Associate Professor O'Mara - a Wiradjuri man, GP and Aboriginal health specialist - said the biggest task was getting students through their medical degrees because about 30 per cent of indigenous students had not completed the course in the past compared with about 2 per cent of other students.
Family and cultural commitments, financial difficulties and, in some cases, racism contributed to the high attrition rate, he said.