Anzac Day always prompts us to take a moment to remember those who have served our country and the price they have paid, sometimes with their health and wellbeing, and in many cases with their lives.
I attended the Kokoda Barracks in Dubbo a couple of weeks ago to look at the refurbishment of war memorabilia taking place there. Whilst watching painters carefully attend to the valuable artefacts on the site, the squadron leader and I discussed how we must never forget the sacrifice of Australian servicemen and women from all wars and conflicts.
The Anzac tradition was forged on a foreign battlefield by an army of young volunteers.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Australia’s involvement on the Western Front, in France and Belgium. Australian troops arrived on the Western Front in March 1916, and participated in every major British offensive that led to Germany’s defeat in November 1918.
Almost 300,000 Australians served on the Western Front, more than 46,000 lost their lives and about 18,000 were left with no known graves. Names like Fromelles, the Somme, Pozières, Bullecourt, Messines, Passchendaele, Le Hamel, Villers-Bretonneux and Mont St. Quentin remain places of great significance to Australians today.
For many veterans, Anzac Day can provoke strong emotions. The Veterans and Veterans’ Families Counselling Service (VVCS) provides free specialist counselling services, crisis support and online resources to veterans and their families. Veterans who may be finding this time of year difficult are encouraged to contact VVCS.
VVCS can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia by calling 1800 011 046 for crisis support and free and confidential counselling.
Veterans can also access the Department of Veterans’ Affairs At-Ease mental health web portal: http://at-ease.dva.gov.au/
I was very pleased to hear that five doctors working in Warren, Walgett, Moree and Lightning Ridge have been accepted into a training program that is enabling them to continue to train while remaining in their communities.
The Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) is funded by the Commonwealth Government and targets doctors who want to further their medical careers in general practice.
A total of 27 doctors have been accepted into the RVTS program this year, with 119 doctors currently training with RVTS. Many of these GPs work as solo practitioners and in locations where the medical services would be substantially compromised if they were required to undertake training away from home.
The doctors who train with the RVTS have access to the latest advances in rural general practice without having to leave their patients and move to another centre.
The RVTS model of training recognises the unique circumstances of doctors working in the bush and offers intensive workshops, online training, teleconferences, regular interaction with experts in the field and practical workshops as part of the program. It creates a win-win situation, where doctors can train where they live and isolated communities get to keep the doctors they so desperately need.
RVTS has specialised in general practice training for more than 17 years and in that time, has trained 230 doctors who have delivered primary health care in over 180 rural and remote communities and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.
More information about the RVTS is available at http://www.rvts.org.au/