Each year, we are delighted to learn of members who are announced as recipients of the Australia Day and Queen’s Birthday honours lists for their outstanding service and contributions to medicine and our community more generally.
This year we saw members recognised across both lists, in areas of medical education, research and international causes; specialist areas including psychiatry and orthopaedics; and for their involvement in various medical associations and professional organisations.
We are very proud to have these recipients as members of Doctors’ Health Fund, and to know our members are acknowledged and celebrated publicly for their dedicated work as part of the medical community.
Congratulations to all members who were recognised this year, with such a high honour.
We reflect on the stories of some of these recipients, Dr Phillip Cocks, Dr Jill Gordon, and Dr Neil & Mrs Gwen Wetzig, below.
Dr Phillip Cocks
Dr Phillip Cocks was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his contribution to the service of medicine and medical associations.
Phillip is an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist who has held numerous leadership positions throughout his medical career, commencing with the IRA (Incoming Residents Association) in 1972 achieving Teaching Hospital appointments for all interns. In the late nineties when insurance premiums soared, he worked with AMA NSW Branch Council to include all hospital patients in The Treasury Managed Fund thereby resolving the indemnity crisis.
Phillip also played a key role in the initial concept of Doctors’ Health Fund (previously known as the AMA NSW Health Fund) by proposing in 1976 the launch of a health fund to ensure doctors were protected as both patients and practitioners.
Phillip helped to design products to meet the needs of the medical community, especially regarding high quality cover. His role in product development can still be seen today with the health fund continuing to pay benefits up to the AMA List of Services and Fees for inpatient hospital treatment; a key differentiator that remains unmatched by any other insurer.
We thank Phillip for his dedication and civic-minded vision for our health fund.
Dr Jill Gordon
Dr Jill Gordon was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to psychological medicine and to professional medical bodies.
Jill’s career has been focussed on both medical education and psychological medicine. She was among the first appointees to the Newcastle University medical school back in the 1970s, where she coordinated the first program for Indigenous medical students which began in 1985.
Returning to Sydney, she took up the position of Director of General Practice Training for NSW before returning to undergraduate education. In 1977 Jill was appointed Head of the Department of Medical Education at the University of Sydney, during its transition to a graduate entry degree. While at the University she also introduced a Masters degree in Medical Humanities, in association with the Faculty of Arts, reflecting her broad interpretation of the role of medicine and its practitioners.
Jill has provided countless doctors and students with formal and informal mentoring and support, including advice via the volunteer helpline maintained by the NSW Doctors’ Health Advisory Service, which she chaired on two separate occasions.
One of Jill’s special interests has been how to integrate professional values as a key part of medical education: fostering a sense of shared responsibility, self-regulation, setting and maintaining standards, staying true to science, and putting the patient’s welfare first. Observing the attitudes and values, not to mention the achievements, of most of our current medical graduates gives her enormous pleasure.
Since retiring from the University, Jill has continued to work clinically as a psychotherapist.
We congratulate Jill on her distinguished career and thank her for the role she has played in shaping the future of young doctors and the practice of medicine in this country.
Dr Neil Wetzig & Mrs Gwen Wetzig
Members Dr Neil Wetzig and Mrs Gwen Wetzig were awarded the Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for their dedicated work in the international community, in areas of medical support, teaching, and training programs. Our team was in awe learning of their experiences and commitment to this international cause, and their story reminded us of how lucky we are for the high-quality healthcare we enjoy in Australia.
Neil and Gwen run non-for-profit organisation AusHeal, which facilitates local doctor training, medical care, healthcare resourcing and the development of hospital infrastructure for long term sustainability in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As a general surgeon, Neil used his life-changing experience in Northern Uganda in 2003 to commit his life, together with his wife Gwen, to improving the conditions of medical care in Africa, eventually setting up their base in the DRC.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has placed additional pressures and hardship on a nation that is already suffering from the after-effects of Ebola, poverty and soaring food and water prices due to closed boarders and lockdowns. Both Neil and Gwen were in the DRC as the Australian borders were closing in March, and had to quickly return home at short notice. They are endeavouring to maintain training via weekly Zoom calls to doctors, but are keen to return as soon as possible, as clinical teaching and mentoring (not to mention surgery) is best conducted in person.
More information on their international work can be found on their charity website: ausheal.org.au/