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Celebrating the Extraordinary Women of Rural Health

In celebration of International Women’s Day, RWAV honours the many extraordinary women of rural health who form the pillars of their communities. Thank you to all of the hard working women who have made a difference for countless people living in the country.

We have put together a list of some of the outstanding women who have been acknowledged for their commitments to rural communities in Victoria. Do you know an exceptional health professional who should be recognised for their contributions? Final days to submit nominations for the 2020 Victorian Rural Health Awards: www.rwav.com.au/victorian-rural-health-awards-2020.

Dr Katherine Davey, Benalla

Dr Katherine Davey has served the community of Benalla for over 35 years. She moved into rural general practice in 1983, then joined the Ovens Medical Group in Benalla.

Dr Davey commenced part-time general practice working in isolated community health centres until 1997, and was a clinical supervisor to a number of medical students.
In 1997, she re-joined the Ovens Medical Group as a full-time partner. Throughout her career, she has demonstrated a joy for teaching in positions such as Senior Lecturer within the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Melbourne.

Eileen Alberts, Heywood

Eileen was born and raised in Gunditjmara country near Heywood, and has resided in the area for most of her life where she has imparted her Aboriginal heritage and knowledge to hundreds of GP registrar trainees placed in the South West of Victoria. Her work with the MCCC has included running a Cultural Awareness Day for each new intake of registrars, helping to support the Medical Education Team to deliver GP training, and provided context around the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GP Training Program.

Eileen’s passion is the sharing of cultural knowledge, and she is thankful for the support provided by the Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation and the Winda-Mara Budj Bim Rangers to help her promote reconciliation and the sharing of knowledge to coordinate the cultural awareness programs. Eileen says “if it helps to make the world a better place then I’m all for it.”

Dr Helen Dewhurst, Kerang

Dr Helen Dewhurst has been practising medicine in country Victoria for 38 years. She moved to Kerang in 1982, where she lived for 25 years mostly working at the Fitzroy Street Medical Clinic and the Kerang Hospital.

In 2007, Dr Dewhurst moved to the Castlemaine area where she continues to practise. She has been involved with GP divisions and with teaching medical students and registrars.
On reflection of the support she has received, she says “I have thoroughly enjoyed being involved with two very different rural communities. I have had a great deal of support in both places from friends and colleagues as well as family.”

Gayle Bloch, Wonthaggi

Gayle Bloch is the Practice Manager at Wonthaggi Medical Group (WMG). Since 1995, Gayle has worked at WMG, first as a medical receptionist before being promoted through the levels of senior receptionist, team leader, assistant practice manager and then practice manager.

Gayle’s day-to-day workload includes managing 33 staff members, 15 nurses and 25 doctors across three clinics as well as servicing Bass Coast Health as the exclusive provider of visiting general medical officers, obstetricians and anaesthetists to the hospital. Gayle’s interest in rural health has been driven by her commitment to helping people in her community.

Dr Suzanne George

Dr George graduated from Monash in 1973, worked in Hobart, Adelaide, London, and in city general practice in Parkdale and Mt. Waverley, before moving to Gippsland in 1983.

In light of the increasing demands to teach medical students, interns and registrars, in 2009 she undertook a Graduate Diploma of Clinical Education. She also worked for the Royal Flying Doctor Service for several years providing a female GP service to Orbost.

Dr George is currently an examiner for Monash University’s third and fourth year medical students, and also an interviewer for the GP Registrar selection to the training program.

She retired from rural general practice in December 2018 and moved to Melbourne to be closer to her family.

Dr Lalani Udalamatta, Edenhope

Dr Lalani Udalamatta worked in Sri Lanka as a GP and an emergency doctor. She migrated with her family to New Zealand 22 years ago and started working in rural New Zealand and then emergency departments in Auckland hospitals.

She qualified with a Fellowship in Community Emergency Medicine and later began working as a part-time GP and completed GP Fellowship in both New Zealand and Australia.
After a short period of locum work in Melbourne, Dr Udalamatta moved to Edenhope in 2012.

Dr Udalamatta takes pride in “serving the hard-working farming community in the rural Victorian town of Edenhope and enjoys living in a friendly and helpful local community.”
She lives with her husband in Edenhope and loves the “calm simple and closer to nature” lifestyle.

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