Dietitian earns USC medal for promoting Indigenous health | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Dietitian earns USC medal for promoting Indigenous health

A USC Nutrition and Dietetics student who has contributed to the health of Indigenous Australians will be awarded USC’s highest honour for a graduating student this week.

Tracy Hardy, 44, will receive the Chancellor’s Medal for her contributions to USC and for helping improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through her work in the field of nutrition.

The Maroochydore dietitian said it felt surreal to be receiving the medal for her volunteer work with Indigenous Allied Health Australia over the past four years.

“I’m very honoured to have been chosen for the award, but I never did any of the work to receive recognition,” Tracy said. “I always just viewed it as work that needed to be done.

“I hope that receiving this award inspires other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to achieve their goals and never give up.”

USC’s Chancellor Sir Angus Houston AK, AFC will present Tracy with the medal at a University graduation ceremony at noon on Wednesday 11 April.

It will be one of 11 ceremonies from 11-13 April that will see almost 1,700 USC students graduate in front of crowds expected to total about 6,000.

Tracy, a Kamilaroi woman from the Barwon River region in New South Wales, was appointed to the Indigenous Allied Health Australia board as a student director after she had volunteered with the organisation for several years while studying at USC.

She said her proudest achievement during that time was advocating for USC to support more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who wanted to participate in Indigenous Allied Health Australia’s (IAHA) Health Team Fusion Challenge.

“That was a legacy I was determined to leave so more students could have the same opportunities offered to them that I had during my time with IAHA,” Tracy said.

“It was a three-year work of progress that took a lot of hard work and determination.”

Tracy, who now works as a dietitian for the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, is currently helping to improve the health outcomes of clients with, or at risk of, chronic disease.

Her aspirations include gaining a place as a member on the Dietitians Association of Australia board, which is a national leader in dietetics.

“To achieve that goal, I need more experience as a board member, so I’m currently putting my hand up for more voluntary board positions,” Tracy said.

- Tom Snowdon

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