Pride of Warralong: Give scholarship a go

Sam JonesNorth West Telegraph
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2020 WA Young Australian of the Year Yarlalu Thomas (Pilbara)
Camera Icon2020 WA Young Australian of the Year Yarlalu Thomas (Pilbara) Credit: Supplied

An up-and-coming doctor from a tiny remote community has encouraged the next generation of indigenous students to follow in his footsteps and apply for educational scholarships.

The 2020 WA young Australian of the year, Yarlalu Thomas, said a scholarship he received from Madalah when moving to Perth enabled him to experience a different lifestyle than otherwise possible.

The 24-year-old, who originates from Warralong, 120km south-east of Port Hedland, received a scholarship to attend Scotch College in Perth, and has since studied medicine at the University of Sydney and the University of Western Australia.

“Madalah provided me with so much support to cover excess fees for uniforms, books and one-on-one tutoring,” he said. “One thing I think about is what would’ve been, what would’ve happened if I stayed in Hedland or in Warralong.”

Mr Thomas now mentors indigenous children studying in Perth, including those on Madalah scholarships, and said the path forward for the community was to get involved with education as early and often as possible.

“I think for a lot of indigenous communities, particularly in the Pilbara, the way to build brighter and better communities stems from education, to receive the best education we can, we need to come to Perth,” he said.

“Since winning the WA young Australian of the year, there’s been expectations of me returning to Warralong, and I will, but one of my main focuses is to also help others have the opportunities I’ve had and, in turn, to join me in improving indigenous health in the Pilbara.”

Madalah is a not-for-profit organisation offering secondary and tertiary education scholarships for indigenous students from remote communities to some of WA’s leading boarding schools and universities.

Madalah Limited general manager Laura Taylor said the company would this year support 212 secondary students, including 67 who started on a scholarship this year.

“We encourage anyone interested in studying at one of our partner schools to submit an application,” she said.

“Since inception 10 years ago, we have seen our students go on to achieve extraordinary success, with former students working as engineers, artists, lawyers, pilots, professional athletes, mechanics and within the WA Police.”

Information about the application process and application forms can be found at

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