Christian de Cos is using health science to score goals for Indigenous communities
Christian de Cos isn’t your typical 20-year-old university student. A proud Arrernte man, the second year physiotherapy student comes from a family where “impact” should be their family motto. His father is an essential worker, his mother works for Indigenous Business Australia and his grandmother is an award-winning artist of Arrernte, Chinese, Anglo-Celtic heritage. Combining heritage with a passion for making a difference is in his DNA.
Christian wants to help educate the world using the health-related skills he’s learning both at uni and from the connections he’s building within Indigenous communities. “I knew I wanted to do a health degree. I got offered medicine but [rather than spending eight years at uni] decided I want to get out into the community as quickly as possible to help others,” Christian says.
Inspired by injury
Physiotherapists have been an inspiration to Christian from an early age – and he’s seen first-hand (literally!) how life-changing their work can be. During football trials in year 10, he broke his wrist, for the third time. “The attitude that the physio has is great. Hearing the physio say ‘your fingers are ok; you can play PlayStation this weekend’ is huge to a young person. It lifts your mood so much and I wanted to be able to do that for others.”
As part of his four-year degree, Christian has to complete five work placements in a variety of specialities. Following the footsteps of his mentor Adam Doyle, who is the first Indigenous physiotherapist to graduate from the University of Canberra, Christian’s aim is to get placement in an area with a high Indigenous population.
To help build his network, Christian has joined Indigenous Allied Health – a member-based organisation that connects students with learning opportunities to better understand the complexity of, and access to, health, education and wellbeing of First Nations people.
Christian was also lucky enough to be involved in the video production of the university’s Yarning About project which profiled and interviewed First Nations staff and students to talk all things culture. Its aim is to help the wider university cohorts have a better understanding of Indigenous ways. “Before you close the gap in remote communities, you need to close the gap in urban communities,” Christian says. – Angela Crompton
Christian’s study and career pathway
- National Indigenous Summer School, The Australian National University
- Bachelor of Physiotherapy, University of Canberra
- Yarning About Project, University of Canberra
- Member of Indigenous Allied Health Australia
This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Science 2022.
Author: STEM Contributor
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