2024 QRMFN Backbone of the Bush Award Announced!

25 June 2024

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The recipient of the Queensland Rural Medical Family Network’s (QRMFN) Backbone of the Bush Award for 2024 was revealed during the RDAQ Conference over the weekend. Chris Mitchell, CEO of Health Workforce Queensland, had the honor of presenting this year's award to David O’Toole.

The Backbone of the Bush Award recognizes and acknowledges the invaluable support that spouses and partners of rural medical doctors provide to them and their community.

Dave and his partner, Dr Anna Carswell, moved from Tasmania to Goondiwindi where Dave is a high school teacher, captain and coach of the local Aussie Rules team The Hawks, a member of the local triathlon club, supporter of Parkrun and contributor to musical productions. In addition to this Dave supports Anna, who is a rural generalist providing GP services in her own practice and emergency, inpatient and obstetric services at Goondiwindi Hospital. Anna’s hours are extensive and unpredictable, and Dave is an invaluable support for her, ensuring she finds time for her own wellbeing, rest and exercise, and supporting their three sons, at home, school and in their sporting pursuits.

Fewer rural doctors are remaining in the same rural location to provide full-time services for more than a decade and Anna has expressed very clearly that this would not have been at all possible for her, without the undying support of her husband Dave. Dave stepped in to provide everything that Anna and their sons have needed over that time, while continuing his own work as a teacher and supporting local sporting clubs. He has been a genuine Backbone of the Bush for his family and his community. 

Dave was enjoying a well-earned relaxing holiday with his family in Hawaii and could not attend the RDAQ Conference. Therefore, Chris will present Dave' with his award once he returns.

Congratulations Dave and thank you for supporting your rural GP partner and in turn supporting the community of Goondiwindi.