Media Releases
Sarah Vickery Sarah Vickery
Media Resources

UOW Media Office, T: +61 4221 4227 | E:

Indigenous students receive inaugural Cancer Council health scholarships

Tackling the issue of culturally appropriate health care. 

Two University of Wollongong (UOW) students are the inaugural recipients of the MaryAnn Bin-Sallik AO Cancer Council NSW Indigenous Health scholarship.

The $20,000 scholarship has been awarded to final year Bachelor of Nursing student, Marcelle Skimmings, and final year Bachelor of Medical and Health Science (Honours) student, Jacob Stephenson.

Marcelle Skimmings, a proud Torres Strait Islander woman living in Wollongong, is a mature age student who is also raising three Aboriginal foster boys while working part time and completing her university degree full time.

Fellow scholarship recipient, Jacob Stephenson, is completing the final year of his Bachelor of Medical and Health Science (Honours) degree. He has a particular interest in oncology research and men’s health.

The initiative is part of a new partnership between UOW’s Woolyungah Indigenous Centre and Cancer Council NSW to support Aboriginal students as they enter into medical professions, in a bid to build the Aboriginal health workforce, through the funding of Indigenous health scholarships.

Woolyungah Indigenous Centre Student Support Advisor, Rochelle Morris, has welcomed the partnership with Cancer Council NSW.

“This is a fantastic step forward in supporting Indigenous students in their pursuit to make a difference in the health care sector and encourage more students to take up studies in related fields.

“We’re very proud of both Marcelle and Jacob for their achievements to date, the scholarships will certainly go a long way towards helping them to reach their career goals,” Ms Morris said.

According to the Cancer Council’s Aboriginal Patterns of Cancer Care study, Aboriginal people are 60 per cent more likely to die from cancer than non-Aboriginal Australians, with cancer being the second leading cause of death.

The study reveals the high cancer mortality rate in Indigenous people has been partially attributed to the lack of culturally appropriate health care, accounting for a key reason why many Aboriginal people avoid cancer screening and treatment.

The scholarship has been named in honour of Emeritus Professor MaryAnn Bin-Sallik AO in recognition of her significant achievements in health and academia and to inspire Indigenous students in their pursuit of tertiary study in health-related disciplines.

Pictured L to R: Marcelle Skimmings and Professor MaryAnn Bin-Sallik AO.


Professor MaryAnn Bin-Sallik AO, is a Djaru woman of East Kimberley, she was the first Indigenous person to graduate as a trained nurse in Darwin; the first Aboriginal Australian to receive a Doctorate from Harvard University, and the first Aboriginal person to be employed full time in Australia's university sector for which she was awarded a Centenary Medal. Upon retirement in 2008, amongst many international accolades, Professor Bin-Sallik was made an Emeritus Professor of Charles Darwin University for her significant contribution to the Academy. She was also named the Female Elder of the Year during the NAIDOC 2016 celebrations and awarded an Order of Australia Medal on Australia Day 2017.