First Nations Features: Tom Mylne

Name: Tom Mylne

Your Mob: Gangalu

Occupation/Role: AIDA Student Director

Tell us about yourself?
I grew up in Gladstone central Queensland before moving to Brisbane for university. I completed pharmacy at the University of Queensland as my undergraduate degree. In my capacity as pharmacist I worked for the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, followed by five years with the Royal Australian Air Force predominantly based in the Northern Territory. I have also worked as an equity advisor and trained with the National Critical Care Trauma Response Centre based at Royal Darwin Hospital. I am currently in my fourth year of an intercalated Medicine and Master of Public Health course at the University of Melbourne and will graduate with the dual MD/MPH in 2021. I currently sit on the Board of Directors for the Australian Indigenous Doctorsโ€™ Association (AIDA) and on the RACGP RAP Advisory Committee. I continue to work part-time as a hospital pharmacist in Melbourne and as an Air Force Reservist throughout my studies.

Why did you go into the health profession?
When I was a kid my mum had a melanoma and I remember from trips to Brisbane to see the Dermatologist who looked after her care. I always thought it would be great to be able to be like the doctor that helped my mum. As I grew up and gained a better understanding of science my curiosity for medicine grew and my desire to give back and help others complimented a health professional career.

Did anyone inspire you? Do you have any role models?
I am constantly inspired. My grade 6 teacher stands out as someone that really believed in me and encouraged me. A/Prof Shannon Springer is someone I look up to as a role model. He has an ability to articulate compelling issues affecting Indigenous Australians in powerful yet calm and insightful ways, he always makes time for students and is evidently a very caring and well-rounded doctor. I hope I can emanate these qualities in my practice.

What do you believe are the major health issues facing Indigenous Australians currently?
Systemic racism being obstructive to adequate resourcing to prevent and manage chronic disease. More awareness of the inequalities faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians will hopefully lead to greater change to close the gap. This awareness needs to start at grass roots level with the true history of Australia being taught in schools.

Do you have any words of advice for aspiring health professionals?
So many health initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are based on western modelling. Reciprocity and self-determination in health research and service implementation is key to closing the gap. Growing our Indigenous Health Workforce is essential for this. My words of advice would be to always find your people wherever you find yourself and keep your support close. Study and work often takes us away from our homes and the ones we love so keeping connected and building your network will get you through the challenges and make celebrating the successes more enjoyable!