Mathew Peck Travelling Scholarship

Help our students help the world

Mathew Peck

Mathew Peck

This annual scholarship pays $5,000 toward the airfare and accommodation costs of a third or fourth year pharmacy student to work on an international aid program, preferably in the Asia Pacific region.

Established in 2003, the scholarship honours Mathew Peck, a Bachelor of Pharmacy student who died tragically while travelling in South America after completing his first year of study. Mathew was committed to addressing international health issues by using pharmacy to improve people's lives.

How to apply

Find out about eligibility and applying for the Mathew Peck Travelling Scholarship

Meet the 2019 Scholarship Recipient

Elaine Kwong, Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours)

Through the generous support of the scholarship, Mathew Peck’s legacy continues to provide students with an opportunity to travel overseas and work in developing communities. Mathew’s love for travel, his commitment to global health and improving health outcomes for disadvantaged populations is remembered through the scholarship.  It gives us great pleasure to introduce you to Elaine Kwong, who travelled to Solomon Islands in December 2019 and provides a wonderful account of her travel experience that was made possible by the scholarship.

“I would like to express my deep gratitude to the Peck family for their generosity in providing extraordinary and unique experiences for pharmacy students in Mathew’s memory.”

Elaine Kwong

As the recipient of Mathew Peck Travelling Scholarship, I have been able to travel and contribute to a developing country’s healthcare system.  It has been a tremendous opportunity to grow personally, immerse in a foreign culture and work closely alongside locals.  I am grateful for the relationships built which extend beyond my time there or the distances between us.  Solomon Islanders are very hospitable and welcoming.  They have treated me as their own, inviting me to participate in their various celebrations and cultural dances together.  A friendly working environment had facilitated team building and mutual support.  I have learnt the importance of culturally connecting with patients and team members alike; how this guides the way we interact and care.  This recent trip to the Solomon Islands has shown me how socio-economic inequality impacts access to quality healthcare.  I have observed the profound intersection between cultural values and physical wellbeing.  The importance of facilitating and empowering locals to take charge of their own health and community has been clear with this experience.

Major healthcare reforms and westernised diets were introduced by the American and Japanese troops during WWII.  These changes driven by wartime necessities, remain ingrained in current practices despite evolving times.  In reflecting personally, in the Australia system too there are preconceived biases and vestigial components of our protocols, which require reassessment for the best interests of our patients.

The environmental repercussions of our actions have been evident throughout my assignment.  The Solomon Islands do not have an active recycling system in place. Many have resorted to burning their plastic rubbish or disposing it in the streets and forests.  The use of plastic bags is also common and culturally rooted.  The Solomon Islands, like Australia, has many natural wonders, unique and precious to future generations and the global ecosystem.  I have been encouraged to conscientiously discern my environmental footprint, both professionally and personally.  I hope to actively avoid wasteful practices and implement environmentally conservative initiatives without compromising utmost quality in care.

As the President of Remedy International Health Club 2019, my team and I have been compelled to serve underprivileged countries and underrepresented people. The Mathew Peck Travelling Scholarship has allowed me to directly take action and live out our principles.  My assignment consists of two projects: Current Handling Practices of Dangerous Drugs of Addiction (DDA), and Pain Ladders’ use and Impact of the Essential Pain Management Course.  The DDA project aims to identify gaps between the draft DDA policies and current practice with the goal to finalise appropriate and unanimous guidelines for The National Referral Hospital and The Drug and Therapeutic Committee. We have developed and conducted a survey to generate data and inform new and innovative practices. I have been able to further my interest in International Health and Health Administration and Management.

This cross-sectional study has provided insight into the National Referral Hospital’s system and identification of barriers and enablers of effective pain management. I aim to identify areas of improvement and growth within the Australian system with this fresh perspective. We have also developed a pioneer study to assess pain ladder use after their introduction in 2018. Only 20 registered nurses from the National Referral Hospital have gone through the doctor-led Essential Pain Management Course initiated by the Anaesthesiology Department.

A multidisciplinary cohort was surveyed to incorporate different perspectives in capturing the benefits of this course and also need for further training.  I have also presented on pain management and potential future roles for clinical pharmacy at an Interactive Continuous Education Session for the whole pharmacy department.  In addition to equipping staff with up-to-date pain ladder guidelines, this had generated open discussions concerning current practice and potential for change.

The crucial role of the pharmacist in various clinical settings has been reaffirmed in the Solomon Islands as it has in Australia. As trained communicators equipped with knowledge in treatment options and medications, pharmacists are able to continuously cooperate with nurses and the medical team to facilitate improved patient care. I am encouraged to further explore ways pharmacy impacts on a global scale, inspiring the need for ongoing growth and new perspectives in international health. I aspire to maintain the professional relationships fostered through this experience for future endeavours in the Solomon Islands and other developing countries.

In conclusion, the Mathew Peck Travelling Scholarship has enabled me to connect with local people of the Solomon Islands, learning about our differences and strengths. This has helped me gain cultural competence and an understanding which directly relates back home. I hope to continue raising awareness about health and socio-economic inequalities, inspiring others, as I have been, of ways to extend our craft and perspectives beyond the hospital or pharmacy.

Previous recipients

Read about the extraordinary experiences of previous Mathew Peck Travelling Scholarship recipients.