Simone Raye, Kahlie Lockyer and Steve Robson
Artist Kahlie Lockyer (centre) is the latest recipient of the AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship. Image by HANDOUT/AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
  • indigenous people

Aspiring doctor wants more ‘familiar faces’ in health

Keira Jenkins June 16, 2024

From bandaging up mannequins at the local TAFE, to studying medicine at the University of Western Australia, Kahlie Lockyer has always wanted to make a difference.

The Ngarluma, Kariyarra, Yawuru and NyulNyul woman from Port Hedland grew up travelling to remote communities with her mother, a nurse who taught first aid and health courses to First Nations people.

Her mum was her first inspiration.

“She really wanted to make a difference,” Ms Lockyer told AAP.

“Trying to help educate our people as well … I guess it was her way of doing her part to close the gap in Indigenous health.”

But it was when the accomplished 35-year-old artist had her second son, who was born with congenital complications, that she was propelled into the world of medicine.

Kahlie Lockyer with her four children
 Barriers faced by Kahlie Lockyer and her children became her motivation to pursue a medical career. Image by HANDOUT/KAHLIE LOCKYER 

“I knew what it felt like being an Indigenous mother and not having an understanding of what was going on with my boy, and coming up against a lot of racism,” she said.

“Some of the paediatricians we encountered were so amazing … I thought, we need more paediatricians that can provide the health care that our people need.”

Ms Lockyer is in her third year of medical school and after receiving the AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship to help with her studies said she feels empowered and excited for the future.

Getting through university has had it’s challenges but Ms Lockyer has loved her studies and she knows how important it is to have more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working in the health sector.

“If an Indigenous person can get the care from someone who has the same understanding of how things are different for us and be a familiar face, it could give them more trust in the healthcare system,” she said.

Ms Lockyer is already inspiring the next generation of First Nations health professionals with her two eldest sons, who are in high school, considering a future in medicine.

“They love science, especially human biology,” she said.

“I just get a bit of that proud mum feeling thinking that I’m giving them something to look forward to for a career.”