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It’s an honour, no joke

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When Brian Morton opened a letter last October asking him if he would accept nomination for an Australia Day honour, his first thought was that someone was having him on.

“I do have this little bit of cynicism from working in medico-politics and I thought, ‘Is this a scam?’,” said the Chair of the AMA Council of General Practice and former AMA NSW President. “My wife said ‘Don’t be ridiculous. Look at the paper its on and the letterhead’.”

Dr Morton was only fully confident it was not a hoax when he saw his name published in the honours list on Australia Day, showing that he had been made a Member in the General Division (AM).

He said that as well as being personally gratifying, the award indicated the general regard in which the medical profession was held.

Altogether, 24 AMA members were recognised in the Australia Day honours list, for their service to medicine as well, in many cases, for their work in the broader community.

As Dr Morton observed, many doctors are not only active in their work and profession, but are also involved in a lot of voluntary work aimed at improving the lives of others in their community.

A prime example is Balnarring GP Dr Graham Cato, who was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his work in community health and life saving, including being a founding member of the Australian Association of Developmental Disability Medicine, running a weekly clinic at a residential home for the intellectually disabled for the past 34 years and helping develop Victoria’s Westpac Helicopter Rescue Service.

Another prominent AMA recipient was Australian National Preventive Health Agency Advisory Council Chair Professor Christine Bennett, who was made a Companion in the General Division (AC) in recognition of “distinguished service to medicine and health care leadership as a clinician, researcher and educator”.

Dr Morton said often people were unaware of the work undertaken by AMA members on behalf of the profession and the broader community, and the Australia Day awards were an encouraging reminder that such contributions were valued.

“I don’t think non-AMA members, or for that matter many AMA members, really appreciate the fact that most of the people holding committee positions do it without any payment,” he said. “The positions are honorary, and it does take time and does take you away from your earning capacity in the practice.

Dr Morton said many doctors active in the AMA were also active doing other voluntary work for their community, and the Australia Day honours were “a good reminder that doctors do a lot of stuff that is not just about getting money”.

Below is a list of AMA members who were included in the Australia Day honours list, along with their citations:

Victoria

Companion (AC) in the General Division

Professor Samuel Frank BERKOVIC AM

For eminent service to biomedical research in the field of epilepsy genetics as a leading academic and clinician, to the study of neurology on a national and international level, and as an ambassador for Australian medical science education.

Member (AM) in the General Division

Dr Harry HEMLEY

For significant service to medicine through delivering health care to the homeless, and as a general practitioner.

Associate Professor Richard William KING

For significant service to medicine as a clinician, educator and administrator, particularly in the areas of health policy development.

Dr Stewart HART

For significant service to medicine as a clinician, particularly in the area of breast cancer research, and to community health organisations.

Medal (OAM) in the General Division

Dr Graham William CATO

For service to community health, and to surf lifesaving.

Associate Professor Bruce Philip WAXMAN

For service to medicine as an administrator, educator and clinician.

Associate Professor Geoffrey QUAIL

For services to medicine, particularly through dentistry. Professor Quail was head of dental and maxillofacial surgery at the Monash Medical Centre from 1981 to 2011.

Public Service Medal (PSM)

Dr Eugenie TUCK OAM

For outstanding public service in the area of health care in correctional services. Dr Tuck spent 26 years of her 47-year-medical career as a medical practitioner working in correctional health care providing care to prisoners.

New South Wales

Companion (AC) in the General Division

Professor Christine Constance BENNETT

For distinguished service to medicine and healthcare leadership, as a clinician, researcher and educator, particularly in the fields of child and family health and social policy.

Member (AM) in the General Division

Dr Brian Keith MORTON

For significant service to medicine as a general practitioner, and to a range of professional medical organisations.

Dr Ian Andrew NICHOLSON

For significant service to medicine in the field of cardiac surgery, and through volunteer outreach programs in the Pacific and Africa

Dr Paul Douglas STALLEY

For significant service to medicine, particularly the treatment of bone and soft tissue cancers.

Medal (OAM) in the General Division

Dr Ian James BAGULEY

For service to medicine, particularly brain injury rehabilitation.

Dr Romney Adair NEWMAN

For service to medicine as a physician, and to the community.

Dr James Byrne POLLITT

For service to medicine as a general practitioner, and to the community.

Dr Peter Robert WAKEFORD

For service to medicine, and to the community.

Western Australia

Member (AM) in the General Division

Winthrop Professor Cashel D’Arcy HOLMAN

For significant service to medicine in the field of epidemiology and public health.

Dr William Daniel ROBERTS

For significant service to the community through roles in health administration and as a general practitioner.

Dr Peter Martin WINTERTON

For significant service to youth through a range of child protection roles, and to medicine.

Medal (OAM) in the General Division

Dr Richard Howell WALKEY, deceased

For service to medicine as a General Practitioner, and to the community.

South Australia

Member (AM) in the General Division

Dr Vikija ANDERSONS RFD

For significant service to medicine as an ophthalmologist and surgeon.

Dr Graham Francis FLEMING

For significant service to medicine in rural South Australia, and as an advocate in the field of mental health and suicide prevention.

Professor Graeme Paul YOUNG

For significant service to medicine through a range of research, clinical and academic roles, particularly in the area of gastrointestinal health.

Queensland

Member (AM) in the General Division

Dr Vernon Barton HILL

For significant service to rehabilitation medicine and spinal injuries.

Dr Peter Thomas MYERS

For significant service to sports medicine and orthopaedic surgery.

Medal (OAM) in the General Division

Dr Darryl John GREGOR

For service to ophthalmology, and to education.

Dr Christine Ellen TRACEY-PATTE

For service to women’s affairs.

ACT

Medal in the Military Division

Dr Leonard BRENNAN

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