Medical School Faculty recognised in Australia Day Awards

Australian of the Year Award trophies created at ANU. Image: Stuart Hay Australian of the Year Award trophies created at ANU
26 January 2018

Distinguished members of the ANU and Medical School community have been recognised in the 2018 Australia Day Honours for their contribution to Australia.

The ANU Medical School's Associate Professor Jennifer Thomson was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her service to medicine and medical education; rural teacher and clinical supervisor Dr Marjorie Cross was awarded a medal in the Order of Australia (OAM) for her service to doctors in rural areas; and Associate Professor Vanita Parekh was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her significant service to medicine as a specialist in the fields of sexual health and forensic medicine, as an educator and clinician and to professional associations.

Dr Thomson has been an Honorary Associate Professor in the ANU Medical School Academic Unit of General Practice since 2010, and was part of a team to win a VC's award in 2015 for the Medical School's Indigenous Health stream.

"It's a great honour to receive this award. The recognition belongs to so many people involved in general practice and general practice medical education," she said.

Dr Thomson said it had been a privilege to be part of the Indigenous health stream at the ANU Medical School.

"It's a unique Australian opportunity for our medical students to learn a lot more about Indigenous health," Dr Thomson said.     

"There are so many patients, GPs and communities, including Aboriginal communities, that make such a great contribution to educating our doctors of the future and I've been privileged to work with them."

Dr Cross has worked as a rural GP since 1980 and has been a rural teacher and clinical supervisor for medical students at her Bungendore Medical Practice since 2006. She was voted best rural teacher at the ANU Medical School in 2005, 2013 and 2017.

"I owe a debt of gratitude to my husband, sons and daughter who I suspect were behind this award, along with all the people who work in rural medicine. I have always been supported by the practice nurses and doctors I work with and I am so pleased they too have been recognised through this award," Dr Cross said.

"I love being a teacher and working with medical students and with doctors in training for General Practice.

"In my work as a GP in Bungendore and Captain's Flat, I've always been inspired and impressed with the rural women I meet in my patient base. They may not have had the opportunities in life due to their location, but many have overcome enormous obstacles and poured their efforts and talents into family and community life. I have learnt so much from them and they have made some wonderful contributions in areas like animal welfare and arts and crafts which really enhance the community."

Medical School Faculty member Associate Professor Vanita Parekh is a senior staff specialist in sexual health and forensic medicine based at the Canberra Hospital, and the Director of Clinical Forensic Medical Services, which includes Forensic and Medical Sexual Assault Care and Clinical Forensics ACT.

Former Sub Dean Calvary Hospital campus in the Medical School and medical specialist at Calvary Hospital, Associate Professor Christopher Ashton, received a Medal in the General Division (OAM) for service to medicine and to medical education.

Dr Peggy Brown, former Director-General of ACT Health and a former adjunct Professor at ANU was appointed an Officer in the General Division (AO). Dr Brown received the award for distinguished service to medical administration in the area of mental health through leadership roles at the state and national level, to the discipline of psychiatry to education, and to health care standards.

The Australian National University and the National Australia Day Council (NADC) have unveiled a set of iconic glass trophies - designed and produced at ANU - and awarded to the state territory recipients of the 2018 Australian of the Year Awards. The trophies were commissioned in a special partnership between the NADC and the ANU School of Art and Design for forthcoming Australian of the Year Awards, while the ANU School of Music was commissioned to compose the awards' fanfare and theme music. Students and lecturers from the School of Art and Design's glassworks studios designed the trophies, cast into solid slabs of shaped glass diffused with a blue colour to symbolise the Australian sky. Each trophy is hand-worked and polished. Head of ANU School of Music and award-winning film composer Professor Ken Lampl composed the fanfare and musical theme for the 2018 awards ceremony.