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Vinka Barunga will be the first Aboriginal doctor in her hometown

Congratulations, Dr Vinka Barunga! She’s one of six Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical graduates in her year.
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Medical student Vinka Baruga is all set to become Dr Baruga when she graduates from the University of Western Australia this Saturday. And her hometown couldn’t be prouder of her.

Last year, NITV’s Living Black spent a week with Vinka, who hails from the small town of Derby, which sits at the gateway to the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Derby has never had a full-time Aboriginal doctor, so the locals were understandably thrilled by the clever young lady’s achievements.

Derby’s health services cater primarily for Indigenous patients.

“We learn a lot about Aboriginal health issues and we learn about the really high alcohol and drug use and we learn about the domestic violence,” Vinka told NITV at the time.

“We learn about the chronic ear infections in children and hearing problems in later life and mental health issues as a result of forced removal of children and forced removal from country.

“I guess it’s something that everyone can learn in theory, but to go and see it is a completely different story.”

It’s been an extremely challenging period for Vinka. During her seven years at uni, she lost both parents to illness.

Now her dream of becoming Derby’s first Aboroginal doctor is about to become a reality.

“I hope it makes them think ‘oh she’s done it, I can tell my grandchildren that I went to hospital and saw an Aboriginal doctor’,” she said last year.

Huge congrats, Vinka!

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