A dedicated Aboriginal medical student from Alice Springs has been awarded the MDA National and Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) Rural Health Bursary for 2019.

Jean Pepperill

Jean Pepperill is in her third year of Medicine at Flinders University’s Northern Territory Medical Program (NTMP) and has spent this year training at Alice Springs Hospital and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress primary healthcare service.

She plans to work as a doctor in Alice Springs upon graduation.

Jean received the Bursary on Friday evening at the gala dinner of Rural Medicine Australia 2019 (RMA19), the joint annual conference of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and RDAA, currently being held at the Gold Coast.

The Bursary has been generously provided for a fifth year by MDA National as part of the medical defence organisation’s long-term partnership with RDAA.

It provides up to $7000 + GST annually to an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander medical student to attend the Rural Medicine Australia conference and to support a research project or clinical placement that will benefit Indigenous health or rural health.

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) works closely with RDAA in selecting the recipient.

Jean plans to use her Bursary to support clinical placements next year in the remote locations of Nhulunbuy in East Arnhem Land (3 months) and Tennant Creek (6 weeks), as well as Alice Springs (3 months).

RDAA President, Dr John Hall, said: "We warmly congratulate Jean on receiving this highly-deserved Bursary. She was selected from a very strong field of high quality candidates.”

“Through the numerous student leadership roles she has held, the clinical placements she has already undertaken and those she is planning, she has demonstrated a driving desire to improve health outcomes not only for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but for all those living in rural and remote Australia.”

AIDA President, Dr Kris Rallah-Baker, said: “Jean is a very worthy recipient for this Award. Just recently, she was awarded AIDA’s Indigenous Student of the Year Award at our 2019 conference. I’m sure the Bursary will enable even further Jean’s excellent work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of the Northern Territory. AIDA is proud to collaborate with MDA National and the Rural Doctors Association of
Australia for the Rural Health Bursary in 2019.”

Jean said: “As a student in the Flinders Northern Territory Medical Program, I am lucky to be able to pursue my passion for Medicine in a program that focuses on rural/remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, close to my family and community.”

“It has been immensely significant to me to undertake my third-year medical placements in Alice Springs. It is the town in which I was born, a town that many of my family call home, a town that I love, and a town that faces a multitude of health challenges.”

“As a Kaytetye woman from Barrow Creek, near Alice Springs, I know the health challenges that people living remotely face. I have spent many years seeing family members live with these challenges. I know the toll that the burden of disease has on families and communities.”

“I have learned that I have a true passion for rural and remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, and I want to continue to nurture this passion in the hope of changing the health challenges that my community faces.”

“I would like to sincerely thank MDA National for providing this important Bursary – I am very much looking forward to my placements next year.”

MDA National President, Dr Rod Moore, said: “We are strong supporters of rural and remote doctors in Australia, and we are proud to again partner with RDAA to award this Bursary.”

“Both our organisations understand the unique challenges these doctors face. It is essential that they receive tailored support and services, so that they can continue to provide outstanding healthcare to people in rural and remote areas.”

“The Bursary aims to nurture a specific part of rural medicine — Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors.Currently, this is a small group but if we can increase the number of these doctors, it will be for the benefit of the wider community.”

Outside Medicine, Jean has interests in astrophotography, hiking and camping – all past-times that lend themselves well to the life of a medical student in the Red Centre.

While she is yet to make a final decision on the direction that her medical career will take, she has found General Practice, Psychology, Paediatrics, Renal Medicine and Ophthalmology to be compelling fields of study so far. With this in mind, she is considering a career as a Rural Generalist doctor to enable her to work in a variety of these areas simultaneously.

Jean Pepperill is available for interview (via Patrick Daley).
A high resolution photo of Jean is available here:


A high resolution photo of Jean with RDAA President, Dr John Hall (at left) and MDA National representatives at last night's awards dinner is available here:

More information about MDA National can be found at:

Media contact:
Patrick Daley (RDAA) on 0408 004 890