‘An incredible privilege’: RACGP Rural Awards 2023

Jolyon Attwooll

28/10/2023 2:51:05 PM

Inspiring registrars and an ‘absolute stalwart’ of rural general practice have been recognised at a ceremony in Sydney this week.

RACGP Rural award winners and crowd.
The RACGP Rural Award ceremony, which this year took place ahead of the WONCA World Conference at the International Convention Centre in Sydney.

Some of the most exceptional GPs working in rural and remote Australia were honoured this month at the RACGP awards ceremony.
Here is the full list of winners, together with the reasons for their nomination and award.
Rural Awards
Brian Williams Award – Professor Ross Wilson

This award commemorates the work of Dr Brian Williams, a rural GP and medical educator. The 2023 recipient, Professor Ross Wilson, has demonstrated a long-term commitment to rural general practice, where has worked for almost four decades.
Described by RACGP Rural Chair Associate Professor Michael Clements as an ‘absolute stalwart’ of the faculty, Professor Williams is known for his enormous contribution to supervising and mentoring medical students and general practice trainees.
As well as his clinical work, he has held positions as Chair of the RACGP Rural Education Committee, Rural Faculty Council, been a Member of the Joint Consultative Committee on Obstetrics, and worked as a Senior Lecturer with the University of Sydney and University of Western Sydney.
Professor Wilson said he has strived to try to bridge the gap between urban and rural healthcare – ‘a divide I’m sad we do have’.
He also paid tribute to his mentors and his wife.
‘Without her support, and without the support of my family, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of the things that I have done,’ he said.
Rural Registrar of the Year Award (dual winners)
Dr Ishani Kaluthotage
Described as an exceptional registrar, Dr Kaluthotage has been recognised for a sustained focus on rural and remote medicine, as well as her passionate advocacy for reducing the health inequalities faced by isolated communities.
She has volunteered for projects in Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Nepal, India and Tanzania, and has already worked as a medical educator, mentor and tutor, where she is known for an engaging and supportive teaching style, according to her nomination.
Accepting her award, Dr Kaluthotage thanked her family, and expressed her gratitude to mentors, role models and friends.
‘I’ve always wanted to make sure that those less fortunate had the right to good health, a basic human right,’ she said.
‘Living and working in remote communities both in Australia and overseas has no doubt had its challenges, but it has definitely been an incredible privilege.’
Dr Dean McKittrick
Awarded for his commitment the Kimberley community in rural Western Australia, Dr McKittrick has demonstrated a high level of respect for and understanding of the communities he serves, according to those who nominated him.
Announcing the award, Associate Professor Clements said that Dr McKittrick has attracted attention for his focus on finding the best way to use his skills in areas where patients have complex needs.
‘Dean’s dedication to achieving excellence in a way that questions the status quo and subsequently improves the service he is involved in has been recognised by all services he has worked in,’ the RACGP Rural Chair said.
Unable to collect his award in person, Dr McKittrick sent an acceptance speech to be read on the occasion.
‘To my colleagues and mentors back in the Kimberley, thank you for inspiring me each day to work hard, and strive to be a better health worker, team member and person,’ he wrote.
‘I truly believe this award is to be shared and relished by a small but passionate team – a team that welcomed me and encouraged me to aspire towards better health outcomes for our patients.’
Rural Medical Student Bursary – Janelle Wong
Ms Wong was commended for her essay on mental health treatment and the barriers to accessing adequate psychiatric care in a remote part of Northern Territory.
Noting the significant challenges facing rural communities, Ms Wong expressed her ‘heartfelt gratitude’ to everyone involved in the award.
Read the full list of 2023 RACGP National Award winners here, and the RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health awards.
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