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Rotary Club of Burnie News

Australian Rotary Health

On November 15, Burnie Rotary Club welcomed the Chairman of Australian Rotary Health (ARH), Kevin Shadbolt, to our meeting. Earlier in his life, Kevin served as District Governor of Rotary in Tasmania – on two occasions!

In accepting on behalf of ARH a donation of $59,000, which came from the estate of Russ Radford (a former Somerset Rotarian) Kevin said “every cent received in donations to ARH goes towards medical research.”

Kevin explained that ARH is currently funding 40 research projects aimed at combating mental health issues and a further 50 dealing with other, general health issues. For many years, ARH is now focusing on the mental health of children, because it has been found that a high proportion of people who are diagnosed with mental health issues in older age, showed symptoms of mental illness already when they were teenagers.

See www.australianrotaryhealth.org.au  for more information (or email admin@arh.org.au )

Claire Griffiths – RCS Graduate

Claire has a five year old son and a nine week-old daughter (see Post of Sept. 3rd below). Her graduation from the Rural Clinical School (RCS) is only a few weeks off. Claire  said:

  • My family home is in Burnie and  I certainly intend to live and work on the North West Coast, even if I have to leave for a period of time. In January, I will start as an intern on the Coast.
  • I’m a palawa (Tasmanian Aboriginal) woman, and the entry pathway to university that I used is called the ‘Aboriginal entry Application Process’. During my third year at Hobart, a few of us were able to move to the RCS at Burnie, ahead of the usual intake at the start of the fourth year.
  • I have played many ball sports, especially rugby, touch football and “Aussie Rules”.
  • During my studies, I went on a cultural exchange to USA and investigated Native Indian medical concepts.
  • During my course, I surveyed the potential for “Social Prescribing” in Tasmania. Social Prescribing enables GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer patients to a range of local, non-clinical services to support the health and wellbeing of these patients. I found ‘rural’ GP’s here were mostly in favour of these concepts.  
  • I seek to be a rural generalist GP, that is with extra skills which I can apply when circumstances require, such as to work in an emergency department or to be able to carry out certain surgical procedures. As well, I see it as important to have skills that would complement activities in whichever local community I might find myself working.

Mental Health

Peter Truman (below, seen at right with President Themba) was the Guest Speaker at our “Hat Night”, which aims to raise funds for Mental Health Research.

Peter trained as a Psychiatric Nurse in UK and worked there as well as in New Zealand and Brisbane before arriving in Tasmania in 1991.

He said that since the 1990’s, there has been an emphasis on moving mental patients out of hospital (or ‘asylum’) and into the community, made possible by having a better understanding of the needs of patients and availability of more specific medicines.  An emphasis on early treatment has been important.

Peter said: – Bipolar patients can cope well outside of hospital care, though occasionally they will need some help; – Paranoid Schizophrenia patients comprise a very small number of all mental patients, but Peter has found these to be the most difficult to deal with; –  Clinical Depression patients have a limited ability to manage themselves, though they are easy to medicate for; –  Reactive Depression  cases appear to be increasing, possibly due to the impact of government impositions in the fight against the Covid virus; lockdowns, job losses, income loss, etc..Peter works within CAT – a part of the Mental Health Services system – located in Burnie and comprises Mental Health Nurses; Clinical Psychologists; Peer and Carer workers; Social workers; Occupational Therapists; Psychiatrists, and other specialist medical staff.      

To a question from the audience, Peter agreed that the number of young people exhibiting mental disorders is definitely increasing. He sees this as a consequence of how our society has changed – for the worse, he reckons – over the past thirty or so years. These days, young people have grown up believing they can have everything immediately and it is scandalous how easy they find it to incur huge debts – without limits!

“Get Brassy”

Allan Jamieson writes: “I was privileged to attend the Get Brassy! concert at Leighland Christian School on Friday, 8 October as a representative of the Rotary Club of Burnie. The performances by the young children – some of whom were shorter than their instruments! – were to the credit of everybody concerned, with special mention to the assistance offered by the City of Burnie Brass Band.

The students began by playing plastic instruments , then just two days before the Friday concert, they were handed proper brass instruments. They even showed that after only one lesson, they could drill behind Drum Major , Rotarian Wayne Richards and follow Wayne’s Mace signs.

I have never tried to learn to play an instrument, let alone to read music, but I came away feeling that at my age (81) it might not be too late to start. Those young musicians had received less than 20 hours of tuition, yet their skill and confidence could not be denied!”


Future Rotarian?

In 2010, Burnie Rotary Club began offering a two-year scholarship to students undergoing their final two years of study at the Rural Clinical School in Burnie. Students were invited to apply and a team of Rotarians then chose the student they felt would be most deserving of funding from the Club.

Claire Whiteway was our selection in 2020 and she has done well in her studies. Claire has also been busy outside the school, having married and – recently (August 26) given birth to a daughter. Claire advised the Club that Scarlet Eva Jean Griffiths weighed 6lb 5oz, is 45cm in length, and has a head circumference of 34cm.

On August 31, Claire wrote: “I successfully passed my final exams two weeks to the day before I had her. I’m now writing up some research from home with a couple more weeks of placement to complete in October.”

Burnie Rotary Club is proud to have had Claire as an Honorary Rotarian for the past two years and we look forward to meeting Mum and Daughter soon.

Wayne Richards – who am I?

[Wayne became a Burnie Rotarian a little over four months ago. He was invited to tell us about himself.]

          My parents were living at St Mary’s when I was born, even though I was born in L’ton. We moved to Latrobe for a short while, back to St Mary’s, and in the 1960’s we moved again when Dad became the Child Welfare Officer here.  As I grew up, I was in Cubs and Scouts and I became an early student at Hellyer College.

           I played hockey and ran in  middle and long distance running events. Of course, I played football too, though I eventually focussed on being a boundary umpire; “the older I get, the better umpire I reckon I was”.

          Out of curiosity, I attended the local brass band hall. A bloke there would hand out an instrument and I was given a trombone. Later I was in an Army band. In 1988, they played at the Anzac ceremony and I stood very close to Queen Elizabeth when she came to Tasmania. I was in the band as well when we supported a 400-voice choir in front of the Pope at Elwick Racecourse.

          My first job was with Burnie Council, but I soon left. In 1977, I joined the Burnie Fire Brigade, though I could not envisage aiming for a career in the Fire Service, so I changed and joined the State Emergency Service, in which I reached the Regional Manager position before  taking retirement.

          Along the way, I competed in car rally events using my own cars; I chose to navigate while friends drove. That way, we wrote off my cars after they rolled over or hit things. I became a steward accompanying the race cars – including the Round Australia Rally that started and ended in Adelaide  – 18,500 km.

Hon Leonie Hiscutt MLC – Guest Speaker

Leonie spoke to us mainly about her early life – before politics. A ‘tradesman’ farmer, she joined the Army Reserve and gained experience in driving heavy trucks. What’s more, Leonie also has a gun licence, a motorbike licence, a chainsaw licence, a forklift licence and can drive a tractor with ease. 

Her father-in-law handed over his stock-buying business to Leonie; she attended stock sales in all parts of Tasmania. With her husband, Leonie was a poppy grower and, later, she was President of the Central Coast Chamber of Industry. Not many politicians, male or female, could boast of that “c.v.”!

Leonie was elected to the Legislative Council in 2013 and continues to serve there.

Leonie is seen at left with Rotarian Nigel Morgan

Leonie Hiscutt MLC with Rot'n Nigel Morgan

President Themba – As he really is!

You might have noticed from previous posts on this website that our President is usually in a photo or two. On July 24 (Saturday) he let his guard down while at a birthday party for a former Rotarian in our club (who had joined a new Rotary club).

 In fact, Themba went all the way back to his childhood days. We just thought you might like to know this.

New Member – Dilani

In the past four months, Burnie Rotary Club has inducted three members from one family: Chandra (husband), Dilani (mother) and Nethmini (daughter). Originally from Sri Lanka, they came to Tasmania when Chandra obtained a position at Latrobe Hospital. Last week, Dilani told us about her life in Sri Lanka.

Both her parents were teachers and the Education Dep’t moved them to several places while she was growing up. Her schooling was disrupted by political instability in the country and she was forced to wait three years before progressing to higher education. Eventually, Dilani entered Ragama Medical Faculty; initially this was a private medical school, though when Dilani started it had been taken over by the Government.
       The government provides 100% free education, but it is highly competitive to get into good schools in Sri Lanka. “My daughter, Nethmini, was interviewed when she was 2.5 years old! … overall, the standard of education in my country is higher than it is in surrounding countries”, she said.
        Dilani worked as an intern in two Colombo hospitals; Lady Ridgeway children’s hospital and Castle Street hospital for Women. Then she had to move to the north and east areas of the island, where the civil war was going on.
       Dilani also worked in a mental hospital before moving to the National Hospital in Colombo, where she worked in the Accident and Orthopaedics services. That hospital has over 3,000 beds and over 7,000 staff.

“Don’t Meth With Me!”

At this week’s club meeting, Past President John Glen told us about the club’s plan to expose all 600 Grade 10 students  on the West and NW Coasts to the very real dangers of getting involved with the drug methamphetamine – ‘ice’. The same event last year, “Don’t Meth With Me” (DMWM) generated feedback from schools and community organisations that was overwhelmingly positive.

The presenters who were here last year will be here again this October, plus we are seeking to add a presentation by a former Meth addict from Victoria. The intention is to be ‘hard hitting’ again, though we have deleted a couple of scenes from what was shown to last year’s students.

Some Education Dep’t staff in Hobart have not shown enthusiasm; it seems they view us as encroaching on ‘their territory’ – yet it is very clear that the Dept’s efforts to steer kids away from Meth have proven ineffectual.