A generous bequest enabled Cameron Raw to combine his veterinary science degree with a long-held desire to connect with Indigenous communities.
Cameron Raw experienced a rich array of extramural placements during his veterinary science studies. Having recently graduated as a fully qualified vet, he credits the Arno Herpe Memorial Foundation Scholarship for helping him to make the most of his degree.
The Scholarship honours the late Arno Herpe who – upon his passing in 1998 – left a bequest to the University to support Indigenous students in the South Pacific area, including Australia and New Zealand. The bequest continues to make an enormous difference to the lives of today’s students.
“The large study load and additional requirements of veterinary study meant that I had very little time to work to support myself,” said Cameron, who was one of three students to receive the scholarship in 2012.
“The scholarship meant that I was much more able to focus on my studies and make the most of my student experience. It meant I was able to undertake a number of placements that I would otherwise not have been able to afford – something I’m very thankful for.”
Those placements included a stint at the Monarto Open Range Zoo in South Australia and, more recently, involvement in the Western Arnhem Land dog Health Program in the Northern Territory.
The latter saw Cameron travel to West Arnhem Land to work with Indigenous communities in maintaining animal health in the area. The program is based in the community of Gunbalanya and travels to a number of outstations in West Arnhem Land and the Victoria daly region.
“Dogs are a very important part of life in West Arnhem Land and a part of creation stories of the area, thus it is known as dog dreaming country,” Cameron explained.
“Veterinary care is not often available in these areas so the program provides very valuable work, which can have a dramatic effect on both dog and human health by reducing dog aggression, controlling overpopulation and reducing parasite spread.
“As a student I was able to gain a lot of practice and confidence in surgical desexing and field anaesthesia, as well as gaining great insights into the local culture and the importance of animals to the community.”
"I was able to undertake a number of placements that I would otherwise not have been able to afford"
The program not only enhanced Cameron’s veterinary skills and provided him with practical experience, it also presented a unique opportunity to connect with the Indigenous community.
“Having Palawa (Tasmanian Aboriginal) ancestry myself, connecting and working with Indigenous communities has always been a personal goal of mine,” he said.
“The program has been a fantastic way to combine this with my veterinary work. I am hopeful that I will be able to keep taking part in the program in the coming years as a fully qualified vet, and continue to help improve human and animal wellbeing in the area.”
Cameron epitomises the lasting legacy of Arno Herpe’s bequest to the University. With the support of the Arno Herpe Memorial Foundation Scholarship, he has forged an ideal foundation for his career in veterinary science and commenced work at a clinic in Rochester in northern Victoria.
“I get to do a huge range of things meaning that every day is different. I get to be a GP, an anaesthetist, a surgeon, a dermatologist, an oncologist, a dentist, and a radiologist, and I get to work with all species of animals and some really great people,” he said.