Medical student Murray Haar wants to reduce the rates of chronic disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities - a commitment that has won him the AMA Indigenous Peoples' Medical Scholarship for 2011.

Murray was awarded the scholarship by Australian Medical Association President, Dr Andrew Pesce, at a ceremony at UNSW.

Valued at $9,000 for each year of study, the scholarship provides support and encouragement for Indigenous students studying medicine.

The scholarship was established in 1995 with a contribution from the Commonwealth Government. It has also been supported by the Reuben Pelerman Benevolent Foundation.

Murray, a third-year med student, says he would like to work in cardiology or mental health, as these are areas that can make the most difference to Indigenous health.

"The high rates of chronic disease in Indigenous communities, particularly mental illness and cardiovascular disease, is a key area which needs to be addressed in order to close the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people," Murray said.

Murray's 'mob' is the Wiradjuri people of the Riverina in New South Wales. He says he hopes to inspire Indigenous children to have similar goals and aspirations to study medicine.

"As a qualified medical practitioner, I will be able to contribute to my community, not just as a doctor, but as a role model to the younger generations of Indigenous people," Murray said.

Dr Pesce, a UNSW Alumnus, said the scholarship was designed to encourage and support Indigenous students who were preparing for careers in medicine, particularly to work in Indigenous communities.

"The AMA acknowledges the unique contribution of Indigenous health professionals to improving the health outcomes of Indigenous people," Dr Pesce said.

Murray is also a recipient of a Shalom Gamarada residential scholarship. "It has provided me with the opportunity to live within walking distance to class and endless resources and an environment conducive to successful study," he said.

Media contacts: Geraldine Kurukchi, AMA, 02 6270 5467 | 0427 209 753Steve Offner, UNSW Media, 02 93858107