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Former Palm Island mayor-turned-paramedic starts health-related degree

By Kirsty Nancarrow

Posted December 02, 2015 12:28:37

A former mayor is studying to become a medical professional to help improve the overall health of Indigenous Queenslanders.

Robert Blackley, 40, is the former mayor of Palm Island.

He is also a single of the initial men and women to complete the Queensland Ambulance Service’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cadet system.

“At 19 I wanted to be a paramedic but was deemed to be as well young at the time,” he stated.

He pursued a profession in politics and neighborhood development as an alternative, but often wanted to return to his original dream of becoming a medical professional.

“At the time when I was on Palm Island as a regional government councillor and the mayor, the life expectancy for men was 42, and ladies was 50 and that was unacceptable to me,” he said.

The cadet program has been operating because 2012 and has 15 recruits, functioning in Doomagee, Cairns, Thursday Island, Normanton, Palm Island, Yarrabah and Woorabinda.

Indigenous paramedic Robert Blackley Photo: Robert Blackley and QAS colleague Neil Noble verify their emergency gear. (ABC News: Kirsty Nancarrow)

Ambulance service operations supervisor Neil Noble stated two much more positions had been becoming created available at Ravenshoe on the Atherton Tablelands.

“It really is the extremely very same education plan that all our other cadets go through to attain diploma level qualifications, just at their pace with lots of assistance exactly where they require it,” he mentioned.

Mr Blackley stated working as an Indigenous paramedic had provided him the opportunity to break down fears about western medicine and encourage individuals to reside healthier lives.

“Getting an Aboriginal man I’ve been able to swiftly create rapport with individuals because we have a shared encounter or a shared history and relationships,” he said.

He lately completed his Bachelor of Health Science (Paramedic) degree.

‘An inspiration to all other paramedics’

Mr Blackley will leave Cairns next week to study a Doctorate of Medicine at the University of Sydney, with his wife in the final stages of her medical degree at James Cook University.

Mr Noble mentioned he was sad to see Mr Blackley leaving but stated he would be welcomed back to the nearby roster for the duration of university holidays.

“He’s undoubtedly been a excellent paramedic for us and an inspiration to all other paramedics to not just stop at a paramedic diploma or degree but to adhere to via with medicine,” Mr Noble mentioned.

Mr Blackley stated he hoped to function as a rural generalist focusing on emergency medicine back in his property neighborhood of Palm Island, which is at the moment with no a permanent Indigenous medical doctor.

He mentioned there was a shortage of indigenous doctors and is encouraging other individuals to adhere to in his path.

“There’s around 200 now and we require yet another two,000 to attain parity with the two per cent Indigenous population, so there’s a long way to go,” he stated.

Subjects: emergency-incidents, medical doctors-and-medical-professionals, cairns-4870

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