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Aurora and Rebecca take honours in Law and Medicine supplied by UWA 14 January 2014


irst cousins Aurora Milroy and Rebecca Hutchens have not only just finished their professional degrees at the same time at The University of Western Australia – they have also become the first Indigenous students to be awarded, respectively, First Class Honours in Law and the Australian Medical Association Prize, which is the top prize in Medicine. Aurora (23), whose family are Palyku from the Pilbara region, was inspired to study Law by seeing her grandmother travel up north to attend Native Title meetings. “I was interested in learning more about the Law and how it applies to Indigenous peoples,” she said. “Working on my thesis was the most rewarding and enjoyable part of my Law degree. I focused on a topic I was very interested in. I looked at proposals for nuclear waste facilities in Australia, the US and Canada, and the impact these have had and could have on local Indigenous communities.” Aurora said she would strongly recommend other Indigenous students to attend University. “It has been a really positive experience for me and I have learned so much. As an Indigenous student you also have the added benefit of having a really strong community on campus. Students at the School of Indigenous Studies (SIS) are really friendly, and we share a lot of the same experiences and issues, which has made uni life

Rebecca Hutchens with her cousin Aurora Milroy. Rebecca received her medical degree from UWA and the Australian Medical Association Prize. Aurora was awarded with First Class Honours in Law from UWA. Image supplied

a lot easier. “The support programs at SIS are also really fantastic and have helped a lot of students get through University.” Aurora grew up in Fremantle and went to John Curtin College of the Arts where she was part of the specialist drama program. She plans to do Honours in History at UWA this year and to undertake a Masters in History in the UK in 2015. “I have a lot of different interests and I think an Arts/Law degree is a good basis for any career – in the law, politics, academia and the media.” Rebecca (24), whose family is also Palyku, decided she wanted to study medicine when she was at Applecross Senior High School, where she was part of the specialist

art program, as she wanted to work with people. “I enjoyed the vast array of experiences my degree provided, including the opportunity to spend my fifth year of medicine living and working in the Kimberley as part of the Rural Clinical School,” she said. “I hope to work in Indigenous health, both as a clinician and in research. “My advice for other young Indigenous people who might be contemplating going to university would be to absolutely pursue a degree, as the opportunities it provides are endless. I think it’s also important to have a good support base, and the support provided through the School of Indigenous Studies is excellent.”

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Aurora and rebecca take honours in law and medicine