NACCHO #NAIDOC2015 story: Young Aboriginal doctor returns to Kalkadoon country to help his mob

Young Doctor

“My plan was always to help my mob. I’m a very proud Mount Isa local. I love this town like nothing else … I always knew I was going to come back and help my people here.

I love the time (NAIDOC WEEK) when we can get together and have a good laugh like we used to, because the world can get quite serious,

It’s really getting together and remembering the past, the present and the future and also talking about the past, present and future and trying to work out the direction we need to go.

It’s a time I can thank people.

Were it not for the Kalkadoon, Waanyi and Gangalidda tribes of north-west Queensland and the Lardil people of Mornington Island, he would not be where he is today.

A lot of people say to me ‘you must be very proud of yourself’

“I say ‘no, I’m not — I’m proud of this community and the people who got me to where I am’.”

Dr Marjad Page, Mount Isa , who identifies strongly as a Christian, NAIDOC Week is a special time for family and unity.

Photo: Dr Marjad Page at Gidgee Healing in Mount Isa where he works as a GP. (ABC North West Queensland: Blythe Moore)

If Dr Marjad Page had his way he probably never would have left his home town of Mount Isa in north-west Queensland.

Instead, under the guidance of the elders in his family, Dr Page flew off to Canberra at the end of high school to begin his university studies.

He was the first person in his family to undertake higher education.

“Really I never wanted to leave. I always wanted to stay in Mount Isa and if I had my way I would have never left,” the 35-year-old doctor said.

“I probably would have worked in the mines, had a white picket fence and had some kids running around. But straight away, when I was a kid, my father said ‘I don’t want you working in the mines’.

“I remember it like it was yesterday, I was six or seven years old and he said ‘if I ever [catch] you in the mines, watch out’.

“So I knew straight away that I’d probably have to go, to grow and come back.”

Dr Marjad Page with his father Ricky and grandfather Ronald

Following his time in Canberra, Dr Page studied at Central Queensland University in Rockhampton and then studied medicine at James Cook University in Townsville.

At the first available opportunity he returned to Mount Isa to live and work.

“My plan was always to help my mob,” he said.

“I’m a very proud Mount Isa local. I love this town like nothing else, I love running around in the back alleys — so I always knew I was going to come back and help my people here.”

Aboriginal doctors a vital part of the health service

Dr Page’s heritage is linked to three Aboriginal tribes — Kalkadoon, Waanyi and Gangalidda.

Mount Isa is in the heart of Kalkadoon country and Dr Page said it was of great benefit to the community to have a Kalkadoon doctor working locally.

“At the end of the day I’m Aboriginal, born and bred here. I know what the kids are going through, I know what they’ve been through,” he said.

“I know what families have been through and I think that’s really, really important.”

He said his understanding of local culture and community structure was also of great use as a doctor.

“That’s something that you just can’t read … you just can’t learn,” Dr Page said.

“Having an Aboriginal doctor in any community [is helpful] but especially if it’s your own because every community is different.”

The ABC is celebrating NAIDOC Week with stories from around Australia.