Making a real difference in closing the gap
A General Practitioner truly passionate about Indigenous health outcomes, Dr Margaret Niemann, from Bairnsdale, Victoria, is the recipient of the 2016 Annette Walker Award. Dr Niemann has been on placements with RAHC since 2011 and completed her 56th placement at the beginning of March 2017.
She has undertaken placements in both Top End and Central communities of Maningrida, Mount Allen, Ali Curung, Finke and Ti Tree and Lake Nash.
Tanya Brunt, National Manager of RAHC said, “A highly commendable winner for the award, Dr Margaret Niemann has had a remarkable journey with RAHC. She has been consistent and committed to the project at hand and her experience and superior clinical skills and knowledge have been very helpful in the challenging environments of a remote setting.
“Her true dedication and passion have been displayed through her ongoing monthly placements to Lake Nash since 2014. We would like to thank her for being part of the effort and making a real difference in closing the gap in Indigenous health.”
Dr Niemann worked for 25 years in the Victorian town of Bairnsdale. She still lives there with her husband, also a GP, and their three children. She delivered babies for 12 years, obtained a Masters in Psychological Medicine from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and practiced most aspects of General Practice.
In the late 1990s, the family lived in the Aboriginal community of Maningrida, Arnhem Land, for nearly two years. Both her children were schooled there. Dr Niemann then worked in the local Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS), as well as the mainstream clinic in Bairnsdale before deciding to return to remote work in 2011 with RAHC, mainly in Central Australia communities. Since mid-2014, she has been regularly visiting the community of Alpurrurulam.
Speaking about her journey, Dr Niemann said, “I find it challenging, exciting and fascinating to be part of one community, sharing its ups and downs and watching as it grows and develops. Working in remote communities, you do get to see different aspects of Australia. Exposure to different cultures, even within our country, always expands your self-awareness and challenges your world views.”
Dr Sally Banfield, A/Director Medical Services of the Department of Health, Central Australia Health Service, said, “Margaret is a passionate and thoughtful Medical Practitioner who works alongside her community and clinic staff to improve health outcomes. Her experience, depth of knowledge and connections makes her an asset and leader within the community and our organisation.”
About the Annette Walker Award
In 2013, we inaugurated this award to recognise an outstanding contribution by a RAHC health professional on an annual basis. We named this award after a valued member of the RAHC team, Annette Walker, who passed away on 30 December 2012.
Annette was dedicated to her work, colleagues and supporting health professionals achieve successful placements. Annette had a passion for the work of RAHC and lived by our motto – be part of the effort.
The award recognises an outstanding contribution by a health professional which could include, but is not limited to:
- Performance of a task or project that exceeded the requirement of their role
- Demonstrated resilience, passion or an approach that helped or motivated other members of the team
- Displayed a ‘can do’ attitude or commitment to getting things done that realised a positive outcome for the health centre, clients or broader community
- Handled a challenging or difficult situation with a thoughtful approach or capable manner
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