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VRHA22 In the News: Recognising Length of Service in Rural Health

Recognizing 35 years of unwavering medical service from Woori Yallock GP

22/06/2022 By Callum Ludwig, Upper Yarra Star Mail

Woori Yallock residents are likely used to the friendly face of Dr Andrew Kirwan, who has been the GP at Woori Yallock Medical Centre for over 35 years. Picture: Callum Ludwig.

Dr Kirwan recently received a Length of Service Award from the Rural Workforce Agency Victoria to recognise the outstanding healthcare he has provided to the community.

Dr Kirwan said it’s an honour to have recognition.

“I’ve just been doing a job and I’ve stuck it out, working in the community has been a privilege really, getting involved with the community was one of the reasons I wanted to move out to a semi-rural area and that’s what I’ve done over 35 years,” he said

“Being recognised is just a nice bonus really, it just means I’m getting older!”

Dr Kirwan moved to Woori Yallock in 1986, having previously worked in Glen Waverley, at St Vincent’s Hospital and the Royal Children’s Hospital as well as receiving obstetric training overseas. He made use of this training, delivering babies until he was 40 before it became too disruptive to be working at the centre before heading off to deliver a child.

Dr Kirwan said a lot has changed since those days.

“Back then we had Yarra Junction hospital working and I also delivered at Warburton and Lilydale but they’ve all closed now and some have turned into nursing homes,” he said.

“I used to admit patients and was the president at Yarra Junction Hospital until it shut in 1990, and nowadays we refer patients down to bigger hospitals, not enough people had private cover back then for it and we couldn’t get specialists to come out.”

Following the closure of the Yarra Junction hospital in 1990, the Warburton hospital was also closed by the turn of the millennium, leaving the Upper Yarra with no hospital of its own, something which still frustrates residents today with pushes to reopen the Warburton hospital in recent years.

Dr Kirwan has been based in the same office at the Woori Yallock Medical Centre for almost 30 years, following a small move across Healesville-Koo Wee Rup Rd in the early 90’s.

Dr Kirwan said he had customers tell him they appreciate the value of an ‘old-fashioned surgery’ and it’s very important for rural communities to have a consistent medical presence.

“Not too many doctors want to move out away from facilities, for communities where they’re more isolated, it’s much more difficult to get access to doctors as easily, even with incentives.”

“There’s still not enough doctors in some communities and it is more difficult, but healthcare is important.”

Winners of the 2022 Victorian Rural Health Awards were announced at the 17th Virtual Gala Awards on Thursday 16 June, with award-winning comedian and rural Victorian Geraldine Hickey the MC for the event.

Dr Kirwan said he has enjoyed his time in Woori Yallock and the relationships he has formed over the years.

“It’s been a privilege to deliver babies and then they come back and have babies of their own, or generations of families coming through, they’ve become friends as well as patients. Some of them have been coming to the end of their time as well and are dying, so it can be quite emotional,” he said.

“I feel a part of the community and like I’ve been fully accepted by the locals, especially with the well-established families who have been here as far back as the 1800s, and to have been able to be involved with the local football club, having played tennis locally and in other community activities.”


The Victorian Rural Health Awards (VRHA), hosted since 2005 by the Rural Workforce Agency Victoria (RWAV) with the support of the Victorian Department of Health, recognise and honour the outstanding contributions made by the exceptional medical professionals, nurses, allied health professionals, Aboriginal health workers and practice managers working across regional and rural Victoria.

Watch the VRHA22 Awards ceremony recording HERE.



The Length of Service Award honours GPs who have spent the past 35 years or more providing exceptional health care to the people of remote, rural and regional VIC. The service can be cumulative or consecutive, and GPs who are currently practising or have been working for 35 or more years in rural VIC (RA2-5 or MMM2-7) are eligible.


mailcommunity.com.au is the online portal for Star Mail with local content relevant to the communities served across the Yarra Valley, the Dandenong Ranges and throughout suburbs in the foothills such as Wandin North, Wandin East, Mooroolbark, Montrose, Lilydale and Kilsyth. Coverage also extends through parts of Cardinia Shire and Knox City.

The Upper Yarra Star Mail covers all things along the Warburton Highway and beyond. The area includes Warburton, Woori Yallock and Yarra Junction as well as outer lying towns including Gladysdale and Big Pat’s Creek. The Upper Yarra region boasts a stable residential population of families and those seeking a tree change, as well as a regular influx of international tourists and Melbourne locals enjoying weekend getaways to create a strong community brought together by a mutual appreciation of the tranquil location of lush mountain forests and river valleys.

Snezana is a Human Resources leader with more than 15 years of experience in management, playing a pivotal role in driving team transformations across diverse industries, including FMCG, automotive, government, and non-profit sectors.

With a curiosity for business and its associated complexities, Snezana fosters collaborative partnerships to cultivate a highly motivated workforce that effectively executes strategic plans.

Msc (Fin), FCCA, FGIA, CA

Shay brings over 20 years of financial
management experience in commercial and not-for-profit organizations. He has a
rich and varied experience in multiple finance and leadership roles in the
United Kingdom and Australia, including CFO, GM Finance & IT, Commercial
Manager Operations, Finance Manager and Accountant.

His extensive leadership experience is
augmented by an FGIA, FCCA, CA, a Masters in Finance and an undergraduate degree in
accounting and finance.

RN, GradDip(Health Promotion), PRINCE2, Mini MBA

Kate is a Registered Nurse highly experienced in health promotion and project management. Her people and program management skills enable her to be agile and adaptable while maintaining an outcomes focus on improving quality access to primary healthcare.

Kate’s extensive experience working with all levels of government, the community and stakeholders across the sector have provided her with insights into the challenges rural communities and health professionals face. Kate has led the design and delivery of many innovative and strategic health promotion and grants programs, supporting better access to health services, health information and activities across communities. Whilst at RWAV, Kate has led the transformation of the RWAV grants program, enhanced the administration of a number of programs and developed the RWAV allied health portfolio. She has also led the development of the RWAV research program of activities.

Having worked at RWAV since 2020, Kate will continue positively influencing the rural healthcare workforce and access to services.

Social Work (BA Hons), DipSW

With a background in social work and a proven record in recruitment, project management, and business development, Jo brings strategic leadership and a wealth of experience in driving positive outcomes within the health, human services, and State Government sectors.

Jo specialises in managing health professional recruitment and outreach programs, including the More Doctors for Rural Australia and 3GA programs. Her focus is on implementing innovative workforce strategies and clinical governance to bolster RWAV’s mission of enhancing healthcare accessibility in rural and regional Victoria.

Having previously excelled at RWAV, Jo spearheaded successful internal change initiatives while fostering strong relationships with external stakeholders. Her efforts consistently align with RWAV’s strategic direction, ensuring a cohesive approach to driving impactful change.

Beyond her professional expertise, Jo’s passion lies in uniting communities and championing positive transformations in rural healthcare in Victoria.

Martin is a governance professional and lawyer with experience in private practice and in-house legal roles. He has been a company secretary for public and private sector organisations across a range of industries including VicTrack, Regis Healthcare Limited and Dairy Australia Limited. He holds Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Commerce degrees from the University of Melbourne, a Graduate Diploma in Applied Corporate Governance from the Governance Institute of Australia (GIA) and is a fellow of the GIA.

With a rich background of consulting and in-house people and culture roles with the corporate, government and community sectors, Andrea is responsible for leading the implementation of RWAV’s People and Culture strategy, policies, processes, functions and team.

Andrea has significant experience in leading teams across culture, capability, diversity, equity, leadership, organisational development and learning programs as well as core human resources partnering.

With a strong focus on building and maintaining psychologically safe organisations, Andrea’s team is dedicated to ensuring that RWAV is a place where people can work well and be well at work.


Rosemary has had a varied career as an academic teaching economics, public policy and industrial relations, and as a consultant, advocate, health union official and as a director.

She brings strong governance and strategic skills to the Board, as well as knowledge and depth of experience in health policy, economics and investment.

Rosemary was a Director of Aware Super for nine years, and Chair of the Investment Committee for three years. She was also a member of the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee, the Governance Committee and the REM and HR Committee. Rosemary is currently a member of the Investment Committee of Cbus.

She was the Secretary of the Victorian Psychologists Association Inc for 20 years and knows first-hand the difficulties in attracting and retaining health professionals in rural and regional Victoria.

Dr Louise Manning is a rural GP Obstetrics trainee practising in Central Victoria where she delivers general practice, obstetric and sexual health services. Growing up in a small town she has lived experience of the difficulties accessing healthcare in rural and regional areas, and is dedicated to advocating for equitable health outcomes regardless of geography.

Louise is also a Board Director of the Rural Doctors’ Association of Victoria.

BAppSci GradDipBus MBus GAICD FIML

John Biviano is an experienced senior executive who has held many senior roles in government (Health Dept) and also in professional associations related to healthcare. Until recently, John was the CEO of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, where he oversaw the digitisation of a range of Member offerings, including aspects of training. 

BA (Politics/Philosophy) BEc GDipBus MBA GAICD FGIA

Roger is an accomplished CEO, Non-Executive Director and Chair with experience in the health, human services, law enforcement, education, transport, and environmental industries – across private, public sector and not-for-profit organisations

.He brings strong governance experience, commercial acumen, risk management and strategy skills combined with a passion for innovation and business development having also been Chair of numerous Finance, Audit, Risk, Investment and Community Advisory Committees.


Assoc Prof Phelps has practiced as a Gastroenterologist and Acute Physician in regional Victoria for more than 20 years.

He trained in safety and quality at Dr Brent James’ Institute at Intermountain Healthcare in the US and has held management and leadership roles in Victoria and Tasmania. More recently he completed a two-year project as Director of Clinical Governance for Central Adelaide Local Health Network.

Grant currently works as an independent consultant providing advice to hospitals and organisations on clinical leadership and safety and quality

LLB BSc MMgt (Strategic Foresight) GAICD

As a lawyer and business consultant Jane has worked with company boards and senior management across a range of areas including IP commercialisation, internet-based businesses, healthcare products/services, privacy and data/IT security. Jane is currently general counsel for .id Consulting – population demographers, economists and forecasters.

Jane served as a director of BreastScreen Victoria for 10 years, is a current director of Ballarat Health Services and chairs RWAV’s Governance Committee.

BMed MMedSci FRACGP FARGP FACRRM DipPractDerm DipMedHyp DipFP DipBusAdmin GAICD

Assoc Prof Rawlin is an experienced General Practitioner and medical educator. He is currently in clinical general practice in suburban Melbourne and previously practiced in rural Victoria for 10 years.

Assoc Prof Rawlin is Chair of the General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaborative and a past Chair of the Mental Health Professionals Association and is a board member of the Mental Health Professionals Network. He is also the Medical Director of the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Victoria.
He is a member of the RACGP Victoria Council.

Albert Giorgini is the Senior Advisor to CEO at RWAV.

As an experienced finance executive, with an extensive career in public transport and in the automotive and industrial gas sectors, Albert has honed his skills in driving financial performance improvements with a commercial and business transformation focus.

Through his strategic financial skills, Albert has demonstrated an exceptional capacity to lead and develop large teams in complex and changing environments to achieve the financial and regulatory requirements of the business. His extensive experience has given him a deep understanding of the industry and its challenges, equipping him with the expertise to drive impactful change.

Albert has highly developed communication and stakeholder management skills to support his strong planning, analytical and financial performance improvement acumen, always striving to create innovative solutions that drive growth and success.


Lauren commenced in the role of Manager People and Culture in August 2018 and is responsible for leading the implementation of RWAV’s People and Culture strategy, policies, processes, functions and team.

Lauren’s team is committed to implementing activities and initiatives to support the achievement of RWAV’s strategies and strengthen RWAV’s position as an ‘Employer of Choice’.

Lauren is an experienced Manager and HR professional, with a career spanning the professional services, automotive, defence, and not-for-profit sectors.

BHlthSci(Hons) MPH PostGradDipMgt GAICD AFCHSM

Lauren Cordwell commenced in the role of Chief Executive Officer in August 2023. She took on the role of Acting CEO in April 2023 and previously served as the General Manager since February 2020.
Lauren has leadership responsibilities for strategy, communications, data, stakeholder engagement and program delivery.

Lauren’s team is committed to supporting communities in rural and regional Victoria to have timely access to affordable and safe health care.

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