GP educator leads King’s Birthday honours

Matt Woodley

11/06/2024 4:58:11 PM

Six GPs, including a number of former RACGP Award winners, have been recognised for their contributions to general practice and the community.

Janice Bell
Dr Janice Bell was named a Member of the Order of Australia in the General Division. (Image: Supplied)

The contribution GPs make to Australian society has again been put on display as part of this year’s King’s Birthday celebrations.
The half-a-dozen honourees joined nearly 490 others in being rewarded for the outstanding achievements and service, with Governor-General David Hurley also noting the diversity represented on the 2024 Honour Roll.
‘Through today’s recognition we shine a light on their efforts, the impact they have and the difference they make,’ he said.
‘On behalf of all Australians, I thank recipients for their service and congratulate them on their recognition.’
Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the General Division
Dr Janice Bell, WA
For significant service to general practice medicine, as well as medical education and training.
Aside from heading up Western Australian General Practice Education and Training for 20 years (2004–23), Dr Bell has also held numerous positions with the RACGP and AMA, and received the prestigious Rose-Hunt Award in 2011.
She told newsGP being nominated for the honour filled her with surprise, humility, and gratitude.
‘I will never forget their anonymous generosity and goodwill in so doing,’ Dr Bell said. 
‘I would stress, however, that … individual awards in truth recognise the many others standing behind and in front of the one so chosen.
‘When I presented the regional training provider [Australian General Practice Training] AGPT Program handover at the last transition workshop … it was my CEO colleagues standing behind me, and long-time colleagues in front of me in the audience, that made the handing over such a solemn and gracious celebration of all we had achieved, and for all that now lay in college hands.’ 
She also described the AM as being ‘emblematic’ of the respect and recognition for regionalised general practice rural generalist training, and its undertaking to deliver safe, high-quality healthcare where it is needed most.
‘This is a mission well advanced but far from complete, especially for our remote communities,’ Dr Bell said.
‘I am proud to have been so involved in the journey, along with so many standing behind and in front of me now.’ 
Dr Beres Woodhead, Qld
For significant service to general practice medicine, particularly in board leadership roles, and to the community.
Dr Woodhead has a long history of involvement in healthcare leadership roles, including with the RACGP, AMA, and MDA National. Another former Rose-Hunt Award recipient, her contributions to the medical community spanned more than 40 years.
Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the General Division
Dr Penny Browne, NSW
For service to medicine as a GP.
A senior staff specialist at Hornsby-Brooklyn General Practice Unit and Bungee Bidgel Aboriginal Health Clinic since 1990, Dr Browne is also a current GP supervisor and was a director from 1994–2014. She was also employed as Avant Mutual’s Chief Medical Officer from 2015–22, and named the RACGP’s NSW GP Supervisor of the Year in 2018.

Penny-Browne-article.pngDr Penny Browne received an OAM for service to medicine as a GP. (Image: Supplied)
While grateful to be personally recognised, Dr Browne told newsGP she is particularly excited to see general practice highlighted in the awards.
‘I really genuinely feel honoured, and I’m delighted that general practice has recognised in this way,’ she said.
‘It’s not just for myself, but it’s for the whole of general practice.’
Dr Browne said there are three elements of her career that she is ‘most proud of’.
‘One is my passion for GP education and trying to inspire the next generation of GPs,’ she said.
‘Another is my work in quality and safety with Avant … [and] the third one I’m also passionate about is doctors’ health.
‘It’s really important that we as doctors support each other in what is quite a stressful and difficult career.’
Dr Chi Wing Lai, ACT
For service to medicine as a GP, and to the community.
In addition to a general practice career spanning more than 50 years (1967–2022), Dr Lai was a lecturer at ANU Medical School and co-founder of the Cambodian-based Sophan Kith Education Fund.
Dr Stephen Alan Langford, WA
For service to medicine, to rural health, and to medical education.
A member of the Royal Flying Doctor Service for more than 35 years (1983–2018), Dr Langford is also a published author and an RACGP Life Member. He served in the Royal Australian Navy Reserves from 1981–2020.
Dr Anh Nguyen, WA
For service to the Vietnamese community of Western Australia.
Dr Nguyen, a GP at Bulwer Medical Centre since 1990, has been involved in a host of local and Vietnamese community programs and projects. He is currently Vice President of the Vietnamese Community in Australia.
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