AIDA 25th Anniversary Member Stories Dr Brad Murphy

23 Aug 2022
Member Story

As part of our 25th Anniversary Celebrations, we are reaching out to our members from around the country to hear about the impact AIDA has had on their amazing careers.

Dr Brad Murphy is a former AIDA board member and winner of the Indigenous Doctor of the Year award in 2016.

He is currently in the running to become the President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. If successful, Dr Brad would be the first ever Indigenous President of any medical college in Australia.

Dr Brad speaks about his early years studying medicine and his motivation behind becoming a doctor.

“I’m lucky in that I was able to get an education, but I left school in year 10, and despite this I have three current professorial appointments in medicine. I followed the dream I had when I was a young man, the one my grandmother instilled within me. I’ve taken the opportunities that were presented to me. Not without sacrifice and commitment. I had to work hard.”

“I would highlight when I started medicine, there were 30 Aboriginal doctors, and 70 medical students. Now we’ve got hundreds, but we’re still not close to our population equivalent. We need to enhance that. We have to give opportunities, give a voice to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, something AIDA has worked hard on long before it became popular for the current government. We need to remind our mob that not only are you good enough, you’re absolutely Deadly! We’ve got to give them as many and varied opportunities to show that”

Brad speaks fondly, about the meaningful connections he has made being a Member of AIDA.

“AIDA has provided me a lot of opportunities to be safe in a relatively culturally unsafe world, especially as a pale skinned Aboriginal man.” Mentors are a strong feature in his journey and there are many AIDA mentors and friends met through AIDA such as those through PRIDoC. Having these “phone a friend” connections allow the journey to be shared and strengthened with the wisdom of many.

Speaking on what it would mean to him to become the first Indigenous medical college president Dr Brad says,

“It would be a testimonial to us. As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we’re still fighting colonialism today trying to get the best outcome for our mob. My message is if I can get the government to resource Indigenous health, to give us the right equipment, right education and right financial support and structures, we would use this for all of our patient encounters, not just our Indigenous patients. This way, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will actually drive the health care for our entire nation. It’s First Nations, First Australians for all Australians, and I just think that’s really powerful! That’s the legacy I want to leave behind.”

On the importance of having Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at a leadership level, Dr Brad cites.

“We need to give our people [Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people] opportunities to be leaders in our communities, that’s where strength comes from. Future generations for future generations. It’s the Uncle Jimmy Little’s, Uncle Neville Bonner’s, Mick Gooda’s, Aunty Lowitja O’Donoghue’s Pat Turner’s and so many other great leaders brave enough to stand and be counted – sharing their passion and love for Indigenous Australians and their/our communities – You don’t have to agree with everything that they do, but they’re strong leaders who are fighting the good fight for our mob. We need really good, high profile Indigenous leaders out there to tell our next generation that they can do this too– follow your dreams and be true to yourselves!”

“I’ve been using the tenant often spoken in Aboriginal health, nothing about us without us. This is a strong message around general practice and the primary care sector. It’s so important. We’re a team, Doctors’, nurse, allied health, practice managers and the admin support team. We need to lead our teams.”

Dr Brad speaks about what his goals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students and doctors would be if elected as President.

“In general practice, there’s a huge shortage of the current and next generation workforce, regardless of background. We need to get the message to our mob – about the importance of finishing high school, taking opportunities, holding true to your dream. We need to make sure that there is a wide variety of pathways for our Indigenous medical students and that doctors have opportunities (of course I am a little biased towards General Practice!).

“I’ve already been working with several of the colleges to make sure that if I am successful, we have already established networks and supports to take this to the next level. We need to learn and utilise the strengths that are already there and AIDA has and continues to work hard and clever in this space. These are very achievable, but again, not without commitment and sacrifice. You’ve got to have a go and you have to do the study but if you do, then the rewards are there and the message back to families and to communities will be amazing – one of strength, resilience, hope and promise. If we have our First Indigenous president of any Australian medical college, how strong a message is this to all Indigenous Australians that you can do this too?

Speaking on what he thinks the next 25 years will have in store for the growth of Indigenous doctors and Indigenous health, Dr Brad hopes,

“That Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be leaders in the health care of our entire nation. If we take the lessons from our community, the strengths of our culture, and we embed that into the ways in which we practice medicine and how we influence medicine, particularly mainstream, then instead of being the recipients we will be the drivers of healthcare in this country – and that is a proud goal, ambition and a reality.”

23 Aug 2022