Alexander Burke, a proud Wiradjuri male, is no stranger to the Sydney Pharmacy School, in fact, it is truly his second home. In the summer of 2013 when Alex had just completed his Year 9 school studies, he took part in the inaugural Sydney Pharmacy Indigenous Camp – known as SYDPIC. Associated Professors Rebekah Moles and Nial Wheate designed and delivered this vocational camp for 23 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to experience university life and of course the Sydney Pharmacy School. Associate Professor Moles recalls a phone conversation with Alex’s mother, asking if he could please attend, despite him only being in Year 9 at the time, as the camp was targeting students going into their final 2 years of school. Luckily for all of us Alex was accepted to the camp as our youngest student.
Over the subsequent years, Alex attended follow-up pharmacy camps and stayed in touch with the school and his mentors. After completing his HSC in 2015 Alex was offered a place in the Bachelor of Pharmacy program and as a student was an active contributor in the Sydney Pharmacy School, serving on the Sydney University Pharmacy Association (SUPA) committee as a student leader and leading a pharmacy health screening day for NAIDOC Week.
Last week, after four years of study and hard work, Alex graduated with a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree with First Class Honours proudly wearing the colours of the indigenous flag on his academic garb. Alex’s honours research project reviewed the pharmacy curricula where he “yarned” with academics about their perceptions of how Aboriginal health content should be taught to inform the new Bachelor of Pharmacy curriculum that is currently in the design phase.
Alex is passionate to continue to shape the way pharmacy and health students are taught about Aboriginal culture and indigenous health and has now commenced his doctoral studies in the Sydney Pharmacy School.
Professor Andrew McLachlan, Head of School and Dean, says that the Sydney Pharmacy School, which stands on Gadigal land, is delighted to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in pharmacy and the school is committed to ensuring that Aboriginal health is purposefully covered across the entire pharmacy degree offerings. He also supports Sydney Pharmacy School staff to gain training in cultural competence with many school members having attended the Cultural Competency Leadership Program.
The Sydney Pharmacy School and Sydney University Pharmacy Association (SUPA) have provided their strong support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart.