Rev. Dorothy Harris-Gordon, who was announced as the City of Lismore’s Debra Rhodes Aboriginal Citizen of the Year, with Australia Day Ambassador Clyde Campbell and Mayor Jenny Dowell.

When not offering her services as a pastor with the Uniting Church, or as a chaplain at both Lismore Base and St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Dorothy can be found helping out at the Lismore Soup Kitchen or assisting families by delivering and picking up school children.

She served as the ground-breaking first Indigenous female chaplain at Grafton Gaol for over a decade and is on call to assist the most needy members of our community at any time of the day or night.



Medicine graduates from the University of Wollongong’s Byron/Ballina hub celebrated at their Graduation Ball on 29 November 2014.  Their local clinical placements were coordinated by the University Centre for Rural Health North Coast (UCRH).

Uow Grad Ball

The clinics where they undertook their supervised placements are shown in brackets.

Left to right:  

  • Dr Andrew Binns (GP)
  • Alexandra Henry (North Coast Medical Centre)
  • Michelle Durst (Prema House Family Medical)
  • Ingrid Elvy (Holdsworth House Medical Practice)
  • Dr Jane Barker (Regional Academic Leader, University of Wollongong/UCRH)
  • David Glendinning (Goonellabah Medical  Centre)
  • Corinne Watson (Holdsworth House Medical  Practice)
  • Gabrielle Legendre (Lennox Head Medical Practice)
  • Flora Zigterman (Placement Facilitator, University of Wollongong/UCRH)
  • Ben Armstrong (Bullinah AMS)
  • Haddi Hughes (Bangalow Medical Centre).

 The students spent 12 months in the Northern Rivers, with two days a week at a local General Practice and the rest of their time at local hospitals and the teaching program at UCRH.

Three of the graduate doctors have returned to the region for their internship - Alexandra Henry and David Glendinning at Lismore Base Hospital, and Corinne Watson at The Tweed Hospital.

Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens volunteers

Geoff Walker from the Friends of Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens pays homage to a GP who became a towering figure in North Coast botany.

After graduating from The University of Sydney and working for over forty years as a general practitioner in Sydney and on the South Coast, Dr. Calder Chaffey retired in 1986. For many years, as he and his wife Beryl (also a GP) developed the Dapto Medical Clinic, their limited leisure time had been devoted to their family and the growing of Australian native plants, ferns and orchids.

They planned to spend their final years on 1.5ha of basalt soil in Wollongbar, and as they travelled north for their retirement, their trailer was laden with such potted plants.

His passion for botany was heightened when he cleared the lantana from the large gully on his block, to find hidden rainforest plants then unknown to him. 

He told me that they chose Wollongbar because it had the best climate, ideal soil and "was close to a good Base Hospital".

Dr Austin Curtin, Lismore’s Citizen of the Year

The Northern Rivers General Practice Network and GP Speak heartily congratulate long-serving local surgeon and educator Austin Curtin (MBBS, FRACS) on being chosen as Lismore’s Citizen of the Year in the 2015 Australia Day awards.

After being educated in Sydney – a university Blue in Boat, he represented NSW in rowing, nationally and internationally - he trained in surgery there and in Belfast.

He has been in practice as a Surgeon on the North Coast since 1985 when he moved here with his family. He holds surgical appointments to Lismore Base Hospital, St Vincent’s Hospital and Casino Hospitals.

With a strong commitment to community development, Mr Curtin has a deep interest in the opportunities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians achieving equality in health outcomes.

He currently chairs the NSW Ministerial Advisory Committee on Rural Health, and was recently elected to the governing council of Southern Cross University, where he was made a Fellow in 2008 and holds an Associate Professorship.

Austin Curtin has a lifelong interest in trauma care, skills that have proved valuable in his role as a Reservist with the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps. He performed Army service in Afghanistan in 2014.

Noted Vietnam veteran, Rev Maj (ret) Graeme Davis in the award’s nomination form, “Most wounded soldiers never get to meet face to face the medical team who ‘patches them up’ in an often unfriendly and remote land (I know because I am one such soldier)… it is up to people who survive to speak on their behalf, and say ‘Thank you for saving my life, thank you for giving them a second chance’.”

Book Review - Sawbones, Saddle Burns & Soothing Balms
Medical Practitioners in the Richmond Valley 1866-1986
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Reviewed by Robin Osborne

Busy in retirement, orthopaedic surgeon Neil Thompson has just self-published this extraordinary labour of love, documenting the names and professional histories of every registered medico to have practiced in the Richmond Valley over the past 120 years.

While a head count is not offered, a rough tally of the names in the index suggests that a roll of at least 500 doctors have ministered to the area’s populace over this time, with many having experiences going well beyond the strictly medical.

The author describes Kyogle practitioner James Aitken, who also worked in the Tweed, as “a man of high principles… after a young girl patient of his complained to him about indecent behavior towards her by her father, Dr Aitken took his stick and the law into his own hands and beat the guilty father about the head, so that the man had to have his scalp wound sewn up by another doctor in the town.”