CEO Primary Matters – 28 June 2023


As the country moves towards a referendum on a Voice to the Australian Parliament, it is a good time to remember that First Nations voices are always speaking to us and we always have the opportunity to connect, listen and learn from those voices within our communities.   

An important time to hear these voices is during the upcoming annual NAIDOC Week celebrations (2–9 July). NAIDOC operates as a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander days of celebration. It is a community festival of events where First Nations communities often welcome wider community participation. It is a festival of survival, cultural renewal and self-determination expressed in the context of hundreds of years of colonisation. As such NAIDOC is also directly about First Nations Health.  

I recommend we all take some time away from our busy schedules to celebrate NAIDOC with First Peoples within our region and take up the opportunity to listen, learn and reflect on those First Nations voices.  This year’s theme is “For our Elders” recognition for the important role Elders play and hold in First Nations communities.  

Warrnambool Primary Priority Care Centre 

Warrnambool’s Primary Priority Care Centre (PPCC), opened three weeks ago, replacing the GP Respiratory Clinic at 133 Fairy Street.  Despite little public awareness, it’s already had quite a few people through, with around 150 people a week using the facility, which is a great sign as it’s been created to ease the burden on the Warrnambool Base Hospital emergency department. The PPCC is an urgent care facility (as opposed to emergency care), and is designed to assist people with low acuity conditions such as fractures, burns and mild infections. The Centre does not offer regular GP consultations. The service is free, whether or not the patient has a Medicare card, and is open 9am-7pm Monday to Friday and 9am-5pm on weekends. 

RWAV Awards 

Congratulations to all those western Victorian health care professionals who were finalists in RWAV’s Rural Health Awards – there were a lot of you – it’s great to see so many fantastic people being recognised for their passion, dedication and expertise. A particular congrats to Ballarat’s Dr Tanya John (Grampians Health), who was awarded Outstanding Contribution by a Rising Star, and Colac Practice Manager, Dianne Loubey (Otway Medical Clinic), who was awarded Outstanding Contribution to Rural Practice Management. The other winners were Associate Professor Rex Pais Prabhu (Swan Hill District Health) who was awarded Outstanding Contribution by a Rural Medical Specialist, Dr Troy Walker (Nyini Health, A2B, ACC, Deakin and Monash Universities, Echuca) who was awarded Outstanding Contribution To Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Health, Kathryn Lynch and the Sunraysia Medical Centre team (Red Cliffs) who were awarded Outstanding Contribution by a Rural Health Team, Kara Di Dio (Kara Di Dio Speech Pathology, Traralgon) who was awarded Outstanding Contribution to Rural Allied Health, Consultant Cardiologist Dr Jennifer Coller (Connected Cardiology, Shepparton) who was awarded Outstanding Contribution to Rural Outreach Provision, Roslyn Stewart (Hume Mental Health Interim Regional Body, Broadford) who was awarded Outstanding Contribution by a Rural Health Consumer Advocate, Claire Oettinger (Get Well Clinic, Healesville) who was awarded Outstanding Contribution to Rural Primary Care Nursing, Dr Suresh Jain (Kilmore Medical Centre) who was awarded Outstanding Contribution by a Rural GP Or Rural Generalist. You can learn more about all the winners here.

Vale Dr Suman Tennakoon 

All of us at WVPHN would like to offer our condolences to the friends and family of Geelong’s Dr Suman Tennakoon, who passed away several weeks ago. Born in Sri Lanka, Dr Suman worked in the UK and Papua New Guinea before settling in Australia where he worked for many years in the Avoca and Maryborough region before eventually moving to Geelong. He was much loved, and you can read many moving tributes and stories about his life by family, friends and patients here. 

Rowena Clift, CEO WVPHN
28 June 2023 

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