Humans of the Wheatbelt

Humans of the Wheatbelt is a disability project that celebrates inclusion within the community.

There is always someone in each story that has a disability whether it is the human, interviewer, photographer or writer.

I was born in Sheffield, England but my family emigrated to Australia when I was nine years old. I studied Medicine at the University of Western Australia. My dad was a doctor and I didn’t think I wanted to be a lawyer or dentist, so it looked okay.

I’ve been a general practitioner for most of my career, but in my current role I work in managing the in-patients in the hospital here in Narrogin.

I’m a bit of a ‘drive-in drive-out’ worker in that I have family in Perth, so I don’t spend all my time up here in Narrogin. I married a nurse, of course. My wife isn’t working at the moment so she can spend more time with me. Between us we have four kids and five grandkids.

None of our children have followed me into medicine. Our grandchildren are eight (two), seven, six and nearly two years old.

I’ve been a member of the local Lions Club for quite a few years, but I’m probably the worst member because I never seem to have time to help in their projects. However I am currently the Secretary of the Club, so I am able to do all the minutes and tedious paperwork for them.

I’m not particularly sporty, although I follow Collingwood in the AFL. I used to play tennis and golf, but I haven’t played either game for a while. I do find time to walk our dog though!

I wouldn’t call myself an avid gardener, but I do enjoy pottering around. I also enjoy reading, movies, that kind of stuff. My favourite writer is Cormac McCarthy, who some people find to be heavy going.

Some of the best moments in my life were when I was a medical student; I had a lot of fun in those days. I’ve travelled internationally, including to India a couple of times, mostly to the north of the country. I’m probably the only person who has been to India without visiting the Taj Mahal, but there’s plenty of colour elsewhere.

Travelling overseas is a good reality check for kids because it shows them that the whole world isn’t like Australia. Life is very different in some of those places.

The worst time in my life was when I was at boarding school as a child. When we first came to Australia, I ended up at boarding school for two-thirds of the year. When you’re nine years old, that feels like about ten years. Boarding school was really tough in those days. I had a psychopathic teacher; he was a really nasty man. I didn’t get into trouble very much because I was a good little boy, but there was a constant undercurrent of tension there all the time. Physical punishment was par for the course in those days. It was a different world to the one we live in now.

In terms of the most influential people in my life, there are a couple of doctors who were highly influential in my professional life over the years. My parents were big influences on me in my personal life, of course.

I know it’s a cliché, but the best thing about working in medicine is the people you meet.

We get a lot of positive feedback, which helps to keep everyone happy.

I used to deliver babies, once even in the back of an ambulance on the Causeway in Perth. I do miss it, although I don’t miss getting up in the middle of the night and not getting any sleep.

My advice to people today is that when opportunities in life come up, don’t hesitate, just give it a go. Medicine is a good career, but it’s definitely getting harder than it used to be.

General practice is much harder now, because governments have made things difficult and people have very high expectations these days. In the 1980s, it was said that ‘if you look after the patients then the money will follow’, but that’s not true anymore. It wasn’t all beer and skittles, but there were certainly positives in those days compared to now.

I do have a sense of fairness. At least we don’t have an American-style system, where if you can’t afford the treatment, you can just nick off. I think we have an obligation in the public health system.

Humans of the Wheatbelt is a Wheatbelt Health Network project supported by Department of Communities.

Human - Peter Maguire
Interviewer & Photographer - Anna Cornish
Writer - Guy Salvidge

Narrogin Observer Shire of Narrogin Narrogin Lions Club Rural Health West Narrogin Regional Hospital


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NORTHAM

Wheatbelt Health Centre
25 Holtfreter Avenue, Northam
Phone: 08 9621 4444
Open: 8am-6pm Mon – Fri

Aboriginal Health - Northam
65 Wellington Street, Northam
Phone: 08 9690 2824

TOODYAY

Alma Beard Medical Centre
81 Stirling Tce, Toodyay
Phone: 08 9578 2500
Open: 8.30am – 5pm Mon – Fri

WUNDOWIE

Wundowie Health Centre
GP Services
283 Boronia Ave, Wundowie
Phone: 08 9621 4444
Open: 8.30am – 4pm Wednesdays

NARROGIN

Aboriginal Health - Narrogin
Williams Road, Narrogin
Phone: 08 9881 0385
Open: 8.30am – 4.30pm Mon – Tues

After hours medical assistance: In an emergency call 000 or present to your nearest Regional Hospital emergency department. If you have a non- emergency and would like to consult with a GP then call Telstra Health on 1800 225 523. The service is free to access for Australian residents who reside in the wheatbelt or who are temporarily residing in the Wheatbelt. This service can be accessed before 8am and after 6pm Monday-Friday, before 8am and after 12pm Saturday and all day Sunday and any Public Holidays. Thank you to Western Australia Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) for funding this service.

  • 25 Holtfreter Avenue, Northam

  • 81 Stirling Tce, Toodyay

  • 65 Wellington Street, Northam

  • Williams Road, Narrogin

  • 283 Boronia Ave, Wundowie

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