Improving health outcomes for communities through scholarship

Mr Joe Roff, Chief Executive Officer of the John James Foundation with Mr Pouya Saeedian and Ms Deborah Eades

Growing up in Ilam, Western Iran, Mr Pouya (Jacob) Saeedian was acutely aware of the insufficient access to medical services within his Kurdish community.

“I saw firsthand people suffering because of the lack of doctors and specialists,” Mr Saeedian shared.

“When I moved to Australia as a refugee at the age of 16, I saw similar struggles within the refugee community and with other minority groups.”

“I have always wanted to become a doctor, but for a long time there was no possibility to make it a reality.”

“Part of the appeal of medicine is that it’s a lifelong commitment. I want to be challenged and continue to learn and grow in my career. The other part that appeals to me is that I hope to make a difference in the lives of those who are disadvantaged. I have been there myself, so I understand the struggles,” Mr Saeedian remarked.

Although he has faced many obstacles during his education in Australia - particularly due to his ineligibility for government funding – Mr Saeedian has through the support of various Canberra based organisations, and his own determination, continued to work towards his goal of becoming a doctor.

This year, thanks to a full scholarship from the John James Foundation*, and an international fee waiver from the Australian National University (ANU), Mr Saeedian has commenced the Doctor of Medicine and Surgery program.

“The John James Foundation enables people to achieve their dreams and the best part is that they genuinely care about the individual.  They consider an individual’s circumstances and provide appropriate support to ensure they can be successful and complete their studies.” Mr Saeedian noted.

Professor Paul Smith AM, Chairman of the John James Foundation board, advised, “The Foundation’s medical scholarships provide opportunities for some of the most marginalised, talented and driven people in society.”

“Indigenous and refugee scholarship holders overcome significant hurdles in pursuing education and a vocation for helping others. We hope that our support will change their lives as they help others in life,” Professor Smith added.

Ms Deborah Eades, a first year medical student was inspired to pursue medicine after volunteering at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services.

“I originally wanted to study business, but my volunteer experience has motivated me to become a doctor.”

“I witnessed different chronic health issues which plagued the Indigenous community. I want to learn more about these issues and work with a broader health community to help close the gap, especially as an Indigenous person.”

“I am incredibly thankful to the John James Foundation. The scholarship allows me to prioritise my studies so that I can eventually give back to Indigenous communities,” Ms Eades said.

Professor Russell Gruen, Dean of the ANU College of Health and Medicine affirmed, “Our 15 year strong partnership with the John James Foundation is accelerating medical education and research, and supporting us to elevate access and quality of health care for Canberra, and the nation."


*In 2023, the John James Foundation is supporting four ANU medical students from Indigenous and refugee backgrounds.