Doctor of Medicine
The Callide and Dawson valleys in central Queensland are Gangulu country, where the white cockatoo is a totem signifying light and hope.
It’s a fitting symbol for the career of Griffith alumnus Dr Samarra Toby.
A Gangulu woman with a profound sense of heritage and responsibility, Dr Toby grew up on this land, the child of a small Aboriginal community and a family for which the concept of healing held physical, philosophical and cultural meaning.
That concept has assumed even greater significance since she returned to central Queensland in 2013 to practise as a GP.
Dr Toby completed her medical degree in 2008 and is now based in Rockhampton, where she is fulfilling her ambition to make a positive contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
She recalls the challenges faced by her community when she was growing up, including limited access to external healthcare and the ongoing issue of lower life expectancy.
Fortunately, encouragement from people within Queensland and Commonwealth health departments led her to undertaking study via a National Indigenous Cadetship with the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing.
After gaining her Bachelor of Science in Brisbane, Samarra’s next stop was Canberra, where she worked for the Federal Government in Indigenous health policy.
“I was mixing with a lot of doctors and a couple of people suggested I would be great working in medicine, so I applied,’ she says.
“It was Griffith’s new Indigenous health program that sealed the deal. I compared Griffith with other Queensland universities and I was really attracted to the freshness of a newly launched degree that started with only 80 students.
“Because the cohort was so small compared to other unis, I think we really benefitted from one-on-one time with our lecturers and they also valued the feedback we gave them.”