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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin
 

First Indigenous environmental health university graduate for Western Australia

Troy Hill is the very first Aboriginal person from Western Australia (WA) to graduate at a tertiary level in environmental health.

Troy was born in Perth but has lived most of his life in places outside of the city - in Meekatharra, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie and Port Hedland. He considers Meekatharra to be a very special place to live.

Troy first started work as an environmental health worker (EHW) in Meekatharra in 1995 with Yullela Aboriginal Corporation. He completed a Certificate 2 in Aboriginal Environmental Health with Pundulmurra College over two years (1995-1997). Under instruction and guidance from Greg McConkey he completed a Certificate 3 qualification in 2001. This training and his practical experience allowed Troy to be employed as a Field Support Officer with Yullela.

In 2003, Troy moved to Kalgoorlie and started working as a Field Support Officer with the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder. With first-hand experience in more than 60 remote Aboriginal communities across WA, it's obvious that Troy genuinely enjoys delivering environmental health services to his people.

While working for the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Troy decided to apply for the Bachelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education course in environmental health. Troy did not know what to expect, but was determined to do something to further himself and his children. He was encouraged to study at a tertiary level by two mentors for whom he has huge respect: Bill Atyeo (the then Meekatharra Shire PEHO) and Greg McConkey (a long-term mentor and teacher). He also received valuable support from staff at the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, as well as funding and support from the Office of Aboriginal Health at the WA Health Department.

Troy commenced his tertiary degree course in 2006, combining part-time study with full-time work at the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Looking back and reflecting on his experiences, Troy acknowledges that this was a long journey and that the study was often challenging and extremely difficult. He found that Batchelor provided him with a good learning environment and cultural support during his time there. He acknowledges that the support and respect from his classmates and teaching staff were strong and encouraging. During his 6-year struggle, he lost many friends and family, partially from the impact of environmental health conditions, and this made him very determined to complete his degree.

Troy says, ‘It's not only a job, it's also personal.

‘If prevention is the cure, then we must teach more Aboriginal people about environmental health. It would be an absolute dream come true if we had more Aboriginal people employed as Environmental Health Practitioners across WA.'

Troy graduated from Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education in June 2012.

He is now employed by Ngaanyatjarra Health Services as their Environmental Health Coordinator. He is responsible for delivering services in the Ngaanyatjarra lands area of WA, in some 11 communities in the Central Desert near the SA/NT border. Troy is the National WA Aboriginal representative on the Working Group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Health (WGATSIEH).

Source: Matthew Lester (Department of Health WA); Troy Hill (Ngaanyatjarra Health Services)

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Last updated: 31 August 2012
 
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