UNSW's Shalom College has been transformed into an Indigenous art gallery this week with some of Australia's leading Aboriginal artists exhibiting and selling their works with the aim of improving Indigenous health.

Proceeds from the fourth annual Shalom Gamarada Art Exhibition will fund residential scholarships for four Indigenous medical students at UNSW.

A total of 15 students have been assisted by the Shalom Gamarada Scholarship program since 2005.

The 2008 exhibition includes 163 works from celebrated Indigenous art communities across Australia, including internationally acclaimed painters Shorty Jangala Robertson and Shane Pickett.

"Shalom Gamarada has allowed us to provide appropriate on-campus accommodation and meals to students in a city which is arguably the most expensive in the country," says Associate Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver, from the Muru Marri Indigenous Health Unit.

"Not only that, through the sale of their artworks many of the artists involved in the exhibition are making a deliberate contribution to improvements in Aboriginal health outcomes," she says.

There are 120 Indigenous students enrolled in medicine across Australia, 19 of which attend UNSW.

Receiving the Shalom Gamarada Scholarship has been a life-changing experience for Josef McDonald, a fourth year medical student from Newcastle.

"Apart from the advantages it offers my studies, another great benefit of the program is that it offers a racism-free environment in which Indigenous students can live and discuss Indigenous issues," he says.

The exhibition was officially opened by the Chancellor of UNSW Mr David Gonski and Dr Tamara Mackean, President of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association.

Shalom Gamarada is a collaboration between the Muru Marri Indigenous Health Unit, Nura Gili Indigenous Programs and the Shalom Institute.

Visit www.shalomgamarada.org for full details and an online catalogue

Media Contact: Fran Strachan | 9385 8732 | f.strachan@unsw.edu.au