The University of Newcastle’s Dr Mark Lock has won a prestigious essay competition designed to promote health improvements for Indigenous people.

The Dr Ross Ingram Memorial Prize is awarded to an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person currently working, researching or training in a health-related field, for an outstanding essay or artwork on Indigenous health. 

Dr Lock’s essay ‘The Bright Sides of Assimilation’, published in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) this month, features life stories about his Nan, Marjorie Woodrow.

“The politicisation of assimilation experiences as wholly negative cover-up positive experiences such as love and enduring friendships,” Dr Lock said.  

 “In spite of the negative consequences that arise from adverse circumstances, by connecting through values such as love, friendliness, honesty and trust, we can then optimistically move the barriers on the pathways to advantage,” Dr Lock said.

“Australia’s First Peoples are disadvantaged across a wide range of socio-economic indicators, and my message to the Australian Indigenous doctors is that such values are the glue of the connections between them, and will empower them to move forward our families, our communities, and our Australia to a future that is bright, constructive and healthy.”

Dr Lock was presented with the award at the 6th Pacific Region Indigenous Doctors’ Conference in Alice Springs and will use the $2000 prize money to establish the Marjorie Woodrow Scholarship Trust.

The Dr Ross Ingram Memorial Prize was established in honour of the Indigenous doctor who died of cardiovascular disease in 2003, aged 36.

Dr Ingram was the first Indigenous person from NSW to be accepted into the University of Newcastle’s Medical School and was the first Wiradjuri person to become a doctor.

Dr Lock is an Indigenous New Career Academic at the University’s Wollotuka Institute.

Previous winners of the Dr Ross Ingram Memorial Prize.