Awards showcase Gippsland’s primary health care sector

National Rural Health Commissioner, Dr Ruth Stewart, speaks at the Annual General Meeting of Gippsland PHN. The meeting was held online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gippsland’s primary health care sector was on show at the 2020 Gippsland Primary Health Awards last night.

The award winners across five sections were announced and honoured by a large gathering of guests.

Gippsland Primary Health Network Chair, Therese Tierney and Chief Executive Officer, Amanda Proposch, congratulated the winners, praising their respective entries which had helped make a difference to their communities.

The winners of the five categories were:

  • Improved access to health services – The Complete Therapies Unit at Gippsland Lakes Complete Health. The unit remodelled and responded quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic to safely meet community need.
  • Prevention – South Coast Prevention Team and South Coast Water Partnership. The Tap Water Every Day social marketing campaign aimed to reduce sugar sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption and increase tap water consumption of teenage males aged13 to18 years across the South Coast Region.
  • Indigenous health – Gippsland Lakes Complete Health and Lakes Entrance Aboriginal Health Association. These organisations have developed a successful partnership working together to prevent smoking,
  • Innovative support for diverse communities – headspace Bairnsdale. The organisation moved its program for the Autism Spectrum Disorder Games group online because of COVID-19.
  • Integration and partnerships (joint winners) – Wellways New Access, and the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Relations Australia Victoria. The New Access program is a collaboration to deliver improved health services for Gippsland, employing lived experience locals from across the Gippsland region. RFDS and RAV worked together to ensure mental health and wellbeing support was provided to individuals, families and frontline personnel who were affected by the East Gippsland bushfires.


Ms Tierney said in a year of drought, bushfires and a pandemic, Gippsland’s primary care health professionals needed to be acknowledged and celebrated.

“We thank all those who entered our awards in this challenging year,” Ms Tierney said. “It was a very difficult task for our judging panel to choose the winners, which just demonstrates the quality of services being delivered to our regional community.”

Ms Proposch praised the diverse range of entries and the PHN team. “I am proud of how the team at Gippsland PHN has thrived on the connection and relationships held with community, service providers, partners,” Ms Proposch said. “More than ever, this year has shown the need for collective support for one another which has resulted in improved ways to positively impact our communities.”

Prior to the awards, Gippsland PHN held its annual general meeting with guest speaker, Australia’s new National Rural Health Commissioner, Dr Ruth Stewart.

Dr Stewart, who has lived and worked in remote communities of Australia throughout her career, said she would be consulting with rural, regional and remote stakeholders and communities to assist the Australian Government develop future health policies that affected regional Australia.

She also spoke about the importance of addressing regional workforce issues. “We now have a lot of knowledge about what things go into creating a rural doctor,” Dr Stewart said. “The best predictor of who will become a rural doctor is a rural kid who has gone through a rural clinical school. They have had early and positive clinical placement experiences and are well supported.

 “We must give them a clearly confined rural medical curriculum to study and reward them for learning about it and engaging…and give them clear jobs to go to and a clear pathway.”

A highlight of the night was a performance by two young singers, sisters from Nowa Nowa, East Gippsland; a rousing and beautiful rendition of ‘We are Australian’ delighted the 96 strong audience.

To view the 2019/2020 Gippsland PHN Annual Report, go to

To see the list of winners and their programs, go to