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Top doctors honoured

Karen Burge
Med J Aust
Published online: 18 February 2013

A host of doctors have been recognised in this year’s Australia Day honours for their commitment to and care of the community

Forensic pathologist Professor Roger Byard PSM has performed some 6000 autopsies in his career yet he can still remember the names of the first children he examined almost 30 years ago.

To him they are patients — with families who are grieving and wanting answers.

“Forensic pathologists are guardians of the dead in a way. We’re the last doctor that this person is going to see. It can be a difficult profession but I approach each case by saying, ‘this is my patient and I really need to find out what has happened so I can talk to the family, their doctor and the coroner about anything that is of concern’ ”, he says.

It’s Professor Byard’s dedication and service to his field as an academic, researcher and practitioner that led to his appointment as an Officer of the Order of Australia in this year’s Australia Day honours list.

“I was really touched to be honoured like that because it is in recognition of my life’s work.”

Professor Byard is the Senior Specialist Forensic Pathologist for Forensic Science SA and holds the George Richard Marks Chair of Pathology at the University of Adelaide. An area of special interest and dedication is his work in paediatric forensic pathology and ensuring lessons from cases at the mortuary are put back into the community. He calls it “preventive pathology”.

“I still remember the first paediatric autopsy I did in Canada. It was a little French Canadian girl and I published her case in my book, Sudden death in the young. When I open the book, I know the names of the children that are in there. These are such terrible tragedies but if you can actually get something positive out of them that you can teach to your colleagues and others to help reduce the death rate, then that’s important to do, and it’s something I’m most proud about.”

Professor Byard shared the spotlight this Australia Day with many other distinguished medical professionals. Also being appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia were:

Professor Diego De Leo, Director of the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, Griffith University, Brisbane: for distinguished service to medicine in the field of psychiatry as a researcher and through the creation of national and international strategies for suicide prevention.

Emeritus Professor Robert Goldney, past head of psychiatry at the University of Adelaide: for distinguished service to medicine in the field of psychiatry, as a researcher and academic, through international contributions to the study of suicide and its prevention.

Professor Ralph Martins, founding Director of Research, McCusker Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, Hollywood Private Hospital, Perth: for distinguished service to medicine in the field of psychiatry through leadership in the research into Alzheimer’s disease and the development of early diagnosis and treatment programs, and to the community of Perth.

Professor Helen Zorbas, CEO of Cancer Australia: for her service to public health through leadership in the delivery of improved information and services to cancer patients and their families and contributions to research and clinical trials.

Appointed a Member of the Order of Australia were:

Dr Brian Michael Boettcher, a forensic psychiatrist and past director of Aftercare, Sydney: for significant service to psychiatry as a clinician and educator.

Professor Stephen Davis, president of the World Stroke Organization, director of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital: for significant service to medicine in the field of neurology.

Dr Alan William Duncan, Medical Director of Clinical Governance at the Child and Adolescent Health Service, Department of Health (WA): for significant service to medicine in the field of paediatric intensive care as a clinician and educator.

Dr Mark Francis Ellis, an ophthalmologist at the Hawthorn Eye Clinic, Melbourne: for significant service to medicine in the field of ophthalmology, and to eye health in Indonesia and East Timor.

Dr David Alistair Lonie, a New South Wales-based clinician, educator and mentor: for his significant service to psychiatry, particularly in the field of infant and adolescent mental health.

Dr Isla Ellen Lonie (deceased), a clinician, educator and mentor, particularly in the field of psychoanalytic psychotherapy (and wife of Dr David Lonie, above): for significant service to medicine in the field of psychiatry, and to professional associations.

Dr Christopher Mitchell, former president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners: for significant service to medicine as a GP through leadership roles in clinical practice, education and professional organisations.

Associate Professor Jonathan Phillips, past-president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists: for his significant service to mental health as a forensic psychiatrist, particularly through contributions to professional organisations.

Professor Bruce William Robinson, Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine and Pharmacology, University of Western Australia: for significant service to medicine in the area of research into asbestos-related cancers, and to the community, particularly through support to fathers.

Professor Roger Smith, Professor of Endocrinology, University of Newcastle: for significant service to medical research and development in the Hunter region and in the field of maternal health.

Emeritus Professor Richard Speare, Deputy Head, School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences, James Cook University: for significant service to medical and biological research through leadership roles in the areas of public health and wildlife conservation.

Professor Michael James Toole, Deputy Director and Head of Centre for International Health, Burnet Institute, Melbourne: for significant service to international health, particularly through leadership in medical research.

Associate Professor Jitendra Kantilal Vohra, Cardiologist and senior electrophysiologist, Royal Melbourne Hospital: for significant service to medicine in the field of cardiology.

Dr Glenda Kaye Wood, Head of the Brien Walder Department of Dermatology, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, and a director with the Australian Medical Council: for significant service to medicine in the field of dermatology.

Emeritus Professor Neville David Yeomans, Director of Research, Austin Life Sciences, Austin Health, Melbourne: for significant service to tertiary education, research and clinical practice in the field of medicine.

Dr Jane Louise Zimmerman, former international president, Soroptimist International, was honoured for significant service to the community as an advocate and promoter of the status and health of women.

Receiving a Medal of the Order of Australia were:

Dr Malcolm Baxter, Ear, nose and throat and head and neck surgeon, Monash Medical Centre, Melbourne: for service to medicine as an ear, nose and throat specialist.

Professor Bradley Scott Frankum, Deputy Dean, School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney and Professor of Clinical Education: for service to medicine as an educator and administrator.

Public Service Medals were
awarded to:

Dr Mark Stewart Elcock, who has 22 years’ experience in emergency and retrieval medicine in Queensland Health, was honoured for outstanding public service in the development and delivery of integrated patient transport and retrieval services across Queensland.

Dr Neil Richard Wigg, a Queensland-based community paediatrician and Adjunct Associate Professor: for outstanding public service to paediatrics and child health in Australia.

Dr Andrew Geoffrey Robertson CSC, Director, Disaster Management and Preparedness, Department of Health (WA), since 2003: for outstanding public service as Director, Disaster Management and Preparedness within WA Health.

  • Karen Burge


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