Austin Health Medical Alumni Association


Newsletter 12
August 2021

Welcome to the August 2021 e-newsletter of your Association.
The newsletter contains a round-up of events held throughout the year and news of events planned for the future.
Past issues can accessed by  clicking here

If you know of any colleagues who are not receiving our emails, then please let us know by clicking here.  Or forward this email to them so they can sign up here
Anyone who has worked at the Austin Hospital, Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital, or the Royal Talbot Hospital in any medical capacity is automatically an Alumnus of the AHMAA.

Welcome to new interns, registrars, residents and medical students, who have begun their appointments.

The Austin Diaspora 

We have received a few stories from Alumni and are are always happy to hear from people and share their news. Austin alumni are providing vital health care in diverse communities including metropolitan, regional, rural, remote and overseas. Please let us know if you have some news to share.

Dr Claire Gordon is infectious diseases physician and immunologist with an international reputation. She works within Austin Health's Infectious Diseases Department, and is inquisitive, curious and motivated to find answers to help her patients and community.

So far, the highlight of Dr Gordon’s research career has been establishing the Australian Donation Transplantation Biobank (ADTB). The ADTB links organ donation to medical discovery, by allowing donor families the opportunity to donate to research as well to transplantation. For researchers, having access to human samples has the potential to improve the speed and safety of the development of new medical treatments, tests and vaccines.

Dr Gordon is now working with the North Eastern Public Health Unit at Austin Health.  She is looking forward to developing a research agenda in public health so that we can start asking the why about problems that affect our local community.

Austin Clinical School 

All medical students are enjoying being back at the hospital, with not too many interruptions to their placements so far.

2nd Year MD students are still attending three clinical placement days a week, and the other two days they continue with their online curriculum. Teaching is still being run virtually at this stage, but hoping to go back to face-to-face soon. MD 2 students, are currently completing their ambulatory, medicine and surgery terms.

3rd Year MD students are continuing with their rotations in General Practice, Mental Health, Aged Care, Women’s and Children’s Health. The MDRS2 (MD Research Skills) supervisors have been notified of their students and research projects will begin on the 5th July, 2021. MDRS students will complete a written report and they will also present their findings with an examiner chosen by their supervisor.

Final Year students - In 2021, our 72 final year students commenced a full year of clinical placement for the first time in the MD course following a redesign to the program owing to last year's pandemic interruption. Our MD4s have enjoyed learning the role of an intern under your guidance, and enthusiastic support from all the ward teams.
Aside from undertaking these practical Trainee Intern terms, they have also been rotating away to other placements missed, such as General Practice, Women’s Health as well as Paediatrics. The final years recently completed their internship applications and will receive their job offers in July. A full-year of clinical placement in the lead-up to graduation might just make our final years the most work-ready cohort the MD has produced!
Thank you for your generous clinical supervision and teaching of our MD4s, and we hope you have the opportunity to work with them across semester 2, as well as when they enter the workforce in 2022. 

Austin Clinical School Team

Austin News 2021

General And Trauma Emergency Surgery (GATES) Unit

Austin has introduced a new general surgery unit - General And Trauma Emergency Surgery (GATES) Unit. The unit has been created for the purpose of improving patient’s access to timely emergency general surgery and better coordinating the care of trauma patients.

The GATES Unit is a bespoke version of an Acute Surgical Unit tailored to suit Austin’s specific needs. The GATES unit will equally share the on-call duties with – and accept referrals from - the other general surgery units. GATES will have an afternoon operating list each weekday focussing on general surgery emergencies.

The GATES Unit will play a lead role in Austin’s Trauma Committee, working to refine trauma protocols and guidelines, as well as the interprofessional trauma simulation program MUST-EQUIP.

The Team
Sean Stevens – Director
Sean is a general surgeon who trained at Austin. Sean is the supervisor of pre-vocational surgical training at Austin, a PhD candidate within the Department of Surgery and a consultant advisor for the Victorian trainee-led research collaborative VERITAS.

Kate Martin – Deputy Director
Kate is an internationally respected trauma surgeon who will be familiar to many of you. Kate previously worked at Alfred and currently at Melbourne Health. Kate sits on every RACS trauma committee possible as well as Victorian State Trauma Advisory Committee. We are very pleased to recruit Kate to Austin and have her lead the trauma aspect of our unit’s activities.

Suat Ng
Suat is a general, breast & endocrine surgeon who has completed post-fellowship training in breast & endocrine surgery at Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong and Queen Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane. Suat is currently appointed with the Breast and Surgical Oncology Unit at Austin.

Gary Foo
Gary is a general and UGI surgeon who has completed post-fellowship training in UGI/HPB at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane and UGI at Austin. Gary is associated with the UGI & Endocrine Surgery Unit at Austin.

Ravish Jootun
Ravish is a general and colorectal surgeon. Ravish was also a former Austin trainee. Ravish completed post-fellowship training in colorectal surgery at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Western Australia as well as Oxford and Queen Alexandra Hospital in the UK. Ravish and is associated with the Colorectal Surgery Unit at Austin.

Dr Sean Stevens
General and Trauma Emergency Surgery (GATES) Unit

Trainee News

The ongoing pandemic has made it very difficult for our trainees in their preparation for their RACP examinations in 2021. Our 2020 clinical exam cohort completed their short case examinations in April 2021 and were finally able to continue on to their advanced training. ​

Our 2021 candidates sat their written exam in February 2021 and launched into their clinical examination preparation amidst the ever-changing COVID restrictions. The drawn-out process has been challenging for our candidates. We are very proud of the way they have managed and continue to support them in their preparation.

We will be hosting our exams over the next 4-6 weeks (COVID-precautions allowing) on multiple days and we wish all our trainees the best. 

We also wish to thank our supervisors, educators and examiners for voluntarily spending countless hours to support all our trainees. We couldn't do it without them. Thank you.

Dr Suet-Wan Choy
Training Program Co-Director Austin Health
Central North West BPT Consortium
incorporating: Austin Health, Bendigo Health, Northern Health, Wimmera Healthcare Group


General Surgical trainees at the Austin Northern training hub have come through a raft of lockdown restrictions, training changes, and exam uncertainty, responding with flexibility and agility. We congratulate Ryan Newbold and Matthew Ng, who have navigated uncertainty and frequent logistical changes to successfully pass the Fellowship Exam. More of our candidates will be attending the next sitting, with writtens on 24th August and vivas on 17-19th September. We are running a slew of morning tutorials and a trainee-led practice exam to help them through these exams. We await further news from the College regarding the logistics of the upcoming exam.

Austin has historically had a strong program for getting our unaccredited general surgical registrars onto the training program. Many of our NSETs underwent their interviews last month, and we eagerly await the results from their SET applications. First round offers come out on 26th July.

The Austin Northern Surgical Trainees Association (ANSA) have expanded their membership and activities significantly. Over 3/4 of our trainees have signed up as members and this has allowed us to expand our activities, including launching an association website, crafting personalised scrub caps for use in theatre, and setting up a private assisting service. Support materials have been collated to help with the SEAM modules and the fellowship examination. While trainees are spread through multiple different hospitals in three different states, we maintain a sense of community and support through regular check-ins, a new initiative from our Wellbeing officer. These activities collectively support our members and their journey through the various hurdles on the way through surgical training.

We expect that all these activities within the Austin Northern training hub will impress the college at the imminent RACS quinquennial site inspections. For the first time, this will be done online - a feat involving 7 teams, 28 inspectors, who will be inspecting and critiquing over 54 sites. If there is any specific feedback that would be useful to raise, contact ANSA

Matthew Ng
Austin Northern Surgical Trainees Association (ANSA)


The ED Education team continues to deliver a hybrid teaching program. 

Educators and trainees have demonstrated their adaptability as we move in and out of lockdowns and we thank everyone for their engagement and ongoing hard work despite the uncertainties.

We have had outstanding success with both current and previous registrars Karin Eggink, Sarah Hodgson, Emma Peters,Orcun Hasip and Elyssia Bourke all passing the OSCE component of the fellowship exam.
Elyssia was awarded the Buchanan Prize which is awarded to the highest scoring candidates at each of the Fellowship OSCE examinations.

There was also success in the Written Fellowship for Rahil Atufi, Joseph Kim and Srigala Nagaranjan.

Additionally, Uzma Saleem and Victoria Power have passed their Emergency Medicine Certificate examinations.

Congratulations to these trainees for their hardwork and dedication.
We wish our Primary candidates and Fellowship OSCE candidates well in their upcoming exams.

Dr Ruth Osborne
Co-Director of Emergency Medicine Training


Austin Radiology’s 2021 exam candidates have recently sat their part 1 and part 2 exams with pleasing results in the context of a challenging COVID environment. 
Candidates had to deal with last minutes challenges to the exam schedule due to Melbourne’s 4th lockdown.  Recruitment for 2022 1st year registrars has been completed and Austin is pleased to announce that our top 4 candidates matched – a reflection of the excellent reputation Austin Radiology has for training and experience.  Recruitment for 2022 fellows is near complete

Natalie Yang
Consultant Radiologist
Director of Radiology


Honours and Awards

We are very pleased that the following member of the Austin Community has been honoured.

Australia Day 2021

Professor David L HARE, Medal of the Order of Australia
For service to cardiology

We congratulate Professor David Hare.



We are saddened by the deaths of our esteemed colleagues Dr Henry Hillman  8/1/30 - 20/5/2021 and Dr Roger Woodruff 17/9/41 - 18/7/2021.

The following Obituary for Dr Henry Hillman was prepared by Christine McDonald and John Iser.

Henry Samuel Hillman MBBS FRACP was born on 18th January 1930 in Lowicz in central Poland. After the death of his mother and aware of the imminent threat of invasion, he and his father emigrated to Australia as political refugees in September 1937. They settled in Sydney where Henry’s father resumed his tailoring business and Henry attended Neutral Bay High School before studying medicine at Sydney University. His early life of privation and demands from his father engendered an enthusiasm and commitment to his studies and later career. After topping his final year, Henry moved through the ladder of hospital appointments, beginning at Royal North Shore Sydney. Moving to Prince Henry’s Melbourne as a resident medical officer, he progressed to In-patient physician and gastroenterologist until the hospital was closed 1991. Henry was also on the visiting staff at Repatriation General Hospital Heidelberg until he retired from clinical work in 1995.

With the development in the 50s and 60s of technologies to enable new diagnostic procedures, the practice of medicine was dividing into various specialties. Henry was a part of this development and teamed with Peter Parsons to provide a strong gastroenterological service at Heidelberg. He also was a member of the Gastroenterological Unit at Prince Henry’s where he joined others in establishing one of the first investigative units for urgent GIT bleeding, the Haematemesis and Melaena (H & M) Unit. Based on his early experiences, he wrote a number of papers which were published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Henry was very well respected as a clinician and leader by colleagues at both the institutions he worked at and was appointed as chairman of senior medical staff at both. Following his retirement from clinical practice, he devoted his energies to the Bridging Program for overseas doctors and was senior examiner for the Australian Medical Council for 16 years. Recognising his enthusiasm and teaching skills, he was eagerly sought by students and medical trainees until his retirement at the age of 84, and until that time, continued to attend Austin Grand Rounds and engage with colleagues and students.

Throughout transition to specialisation, he retained strong links to general medicine and continued practising with courtesy and empathy. Forever polite, he would take time to elicit histories carefully and skilfully, and in the process established a lasting legacy of sound medical practice. His punctuality at meetings, for which he earned 11/10, is a measure of his obsessive nature combined with his consideration for others which continued throughout his career.

Henry will be remembered for his devotion to patient care, his contributions to the practice of gastroenterology, hard work, integrity, humility and above all, his generosity and love of his fellow humans and of his family. He died on 20th May 2021 at the age of 91, and is survived by his wife, Mary, and his family Anthony, Simon and Ruth.

Christine McDonald and John Iser

The following Obituary for Dr Roger Woodruff was prepared by Jonathan Cebon, Sarah Charlton, Andrew Grigg, Lorraine Jordan and Prue Woodruff.

Roger was born in 1946 in Nottingham UK, the second son of Professor William Woodruff, Head of the Department of Economic History at the University of Melbourne.  He attended Trinity Grammar, Kew and while a teenager lost his mother to breast cancer, an event that profoundly affected him and helped shape a lifelong dedication to the practice of medicine. After graduating in Medicine in 1969. He took up residency at the Austin Hospital, where he served as JRMO, SRMO and Registrar in the Professorial Medical Unit and was Haematology Registrar in 1974-75.  He became a Fellow of the RACP in 1976 and was awarded an NH&MRC Research Fellowship in Clinical Sciences 1976-1979 which he spent working as an Honorary Senior Registrar at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London.    

On returning to Australia in 1979 Roger was appointed physician in Haematology and Medical Oncology at the Austin and lecturer at the Austin clinical school.  He also opened a private practice as an oncologist and haematologist.  Over many years, he held a number of hospital positions at the Austin and Repatriation Hospitals, the Royal Children’s Hospital, the Mount Royal Hospital for the Aged, was a visiting Medical Oncologist at the Box Hill Hospital and a Senior Medical Oncologist at PANCH.  

Oncology was a fledgling specialty at that time and together with Walter Moon, who was a senior cancer physician, he mentored a number of trainees who went on to leadership roles in these specialities in Australia. Andrew Grigg recalls him when he was a first-year haematology-oncology registrar in 1985 when the unit was located in the old Heidelberg House. “I remember as a junior doctor embarking on a specialty about which I knew very little being a bit intimidated at first by his authoritative and somewhat gruff manner. I subsequently came to realise that his authority reflected his breadth of knowledge and experience and his gruffness that he tolerated fools poorly. It certainly meant that I prepared as best I could for his ward rounds which could occur at any time, on reflection a valuable learning experience for my career… “ 

Roger had a clear vision regarding palliative care. In consultation with hospital administration, he secured several years’ worth of funding for the establishment of a palliative care consultative service within the precincts of a public hospital – the first such service in Victoria. The service was highly successful. His early research program demonstrated significant cost-benefits of having a free-standing palliative care unit (PCU) compared to the cost of terminally ill patients dying in a public hospital beds. At the time, there were only three free-standing hospices/PCUs in Victoria. With this information, Roger lobbied the state Minister for Health and consequently gained approval and funding to establish a PCU at Austin Hospital.   

During the early years of palliative care in Victoria, Roger actively supported in the establishment of Melbourne City Mission Palliative Care, Eastern Palliative Care (and also became their director), and Banksia Palliative Care. He was the convener of the first Australian Palliative Care Conference, held in 1989 in Canberra  

Together with Lorraine Jordan and Bernadette Vandenberg he established protocols and guidelines that were the foundation on which today’s Palliative care Unit was built.  He facilitated better communication between hospital and community palliative care services and was a passionate advocate for palliative care education. 

Roger was active as a teacher and writer.  He published extensively and authored numerous texts and guidelines in haematology, palliative medicine, and cancer pain management.
He also contributed to numerous professional bodies including the Cancer Council of Victoria, the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia,  the College of Physicians and Australasian Chapter of Palliative Medicine.

Most importantly, he devoted his working life to the care and wellbeing of his patients.  Roger is succeeded by his wife Prudence, children Angela and Tom, and granddaughter Elizabeth. He will always be remembered as a major figure in the early development of haematology-oncology and palliative care at the Austin. 

Jonathan Cebon, Andrew Grigg, Sarah Charlton. Lorraine Jordan and Prue Woodruff.


Annual Dinner

The annual dinner for 2020 did not proceed, due to attendance restrictions for public health.  We are planning to host the dinner in November.  All Alumni are welcome at this event.  Further details will follow.

Please send me a reminder in September about the 2021 Dinner


Golf Day

The annual Austin Health Medical Alumni Golf Day is planned for Friday, 15th October 2021 at Kew Golf Club.
Our Alumni are encouraged to play in this longstanding and happy event.  Further details will follow

Please send me a reminder in August 2021 about the golf day


We look forward to welcoming you back to Austin Health and keeping in touch with all out Alumni.

Gwynne Thomas

Emeritus Associate Professor Gwynne W Thomas OAM

Austin Health Medical Alumni Association
PO BOX 5555 Heidelberg, Victoria 3084. telephone 03 9496 5896
Secretary Geraldine Richards; telephone 03-9496 5896

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Austin Health Medical Alumni Association, Austin Health · PO Box 5555 · Heidelberg, Vic 3084 · Australia