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    INSPIRED: Dr Christine Longman is Stawell Medical Centre’s newest general practitioner.

Dr Longman recognised with an Order of Australia Medal

When Stawell Medical Centre’s newest general practitioner, Dr Christine Longman, learnt she was one of 15 GPs to receive a gong in Australia Day honours last month, she was taken completely by surprise.

Dr Longman was recognised with an Order of Australia Medal for service to medicine through a range of roles, including her work with patients experiencing drug addiction. 

She started working part-time at Stawell Medical Centre last month.

“I was asked to consider general practice at Stawell by Dr Andrew Horwood, who works at the Alan Wolff Medical Centre in Horsham,” she said.

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“He’s an old GP training program colleague and he asked if I would help out as a locum doctor, but I don’t like being a locum because you don’t form any long-term relationships with your patients.

“I’m so glad I’ve come to Stawell because it’s been most enjoyable, the staff are incredibly helpful. 

“I know the area quite well because I lived six years as a child in Ballarat and my grandmother lived in Ararat and Horsham, so we had all our holidays there.

“When Dr Horwood mentioned Stawell, the first thing I thought of was bushwalking, because I love doing that. 

“Another plus is that my niece Cathy is an associate nurse unit manager of the dialysis team at Wimmera Cancer Centre.” 

Dr Longman said she was not entirely sure which of her achievements were taken into account for OAM honours. 

“I guess what stands out for me is more than 40 years of general practice in Yarraville, but also my work with patients going through recovery from substance abuse,” she said. 

Dr Longman said a defining moment in her career came about 1994 when there was a lot of drug use filtering into Melbourne’s western suburbs. 

“I was struggling a bit with patient issues there, so I went to the local drug service and said ‘look I don’t know what’s going on – please help me’,” she said.

“Their way of helping me was to give me a job one day a week working with people who were dependent on a range of substances – predominantly pregnant women.

“They were usually real battlers who had a pretty raw deal from life.

“Following this, I was setting up programs for GPs in the western suburbs to try to help them work better with patients dealing with substance abuse. 

“You can’t just say ‘stop using drugs’ because it doesn’t work like that.”

Dr Longman wrote a Masters thesis in 2007 about why GPs had been reluctant to prescribe opioid treatment to people with heroin issues. 

The entire February 21, 2024 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!