First Nations to Manage Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS)

The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scheme (PHMSS) encourages and assists entry-level First Nations health students complete their studies, and join the health workforce. From 1 July 2024, a First Nations-led organisation will administer the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS).

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From 1 July 2024, a First Nations-led organisation will administer the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS).

For information about the current Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme, see the Australian College of Nursing Website.

The Australian Government is committed to building and strengthening the community-controlled health sector. We plan to transition PHMSS administration from the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) to a First Nations-led organisation, from 1 July 2024.  The Australian Government committed $1 million in the 2023-24 Budget to support this transition. 

The Australian Government established the PHMSS as a tribute to one of Australia’s most outstanding Aboriginal leaders, the late Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter, known for his outstanding contribution to First Nations’ Australians’ health.  In his role chairing the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), he devoted most of his life to improving health outcomes for First Nations Australians.

We are currently working with the First Nations health sector through a department-led Advisory Group. We will undertake an open competitive grant process to find a suitable First Nations led organisation. Once selected, it will support new and existing students from July 2024.

The Advisory Group includes independent First Nations advisors providing advice specific to cultural matters The group also includes senior Department of Health and Aged Care , staff from First Nations Health Division and Health Workforce Division Officials.

The Australian Government acknowledges the Australian College of Nursing’s delivery of the PHMSS since 2002.

First Nations’ people will design and administer the scheme, as they have a deep understanding of the needs, aspirations and cultural considerations of First Nations students.

We will work with ACN and the new organisation (once selected), to ensure a smooth transition. We anticipate minimal impact on existing/future students, who represent the heart of the program.

All efforts will be made so that current recipients of Puggy Hunter Scholarships are not affected during the transition of the Scheme. Regular updates will be provided through his webpage to advise of transition progress.

Update to PHMSS Mental Health Studies Mentoring Program

In 2022, the Scheme extended the opportunity for First Nations health professionals to participate in the PHMSS Mental Health Studies Mentoring Program as  mentors.  This is a short-term program within the PHMSS and funding for this component will end in 2025. However, scholarships for students studying disciplines in Mental Health will continue under the transition arrangements.

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