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Surgical trio honoured

Three local surgeons have been recognised by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) for their commitment to the Gippsland community.

David Birks, Peter Burke and George Owen each received an Outstanding Service to the Community Award for their many years of providing surgical services and their dedication to health care in the region.

David Birks worked as a General Surgeon at Latrobe Regional Hospital (LRH) from 1977-2012 and is currently a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Monash University.

His keen interest in medical education extends beyond the Monash School of Rural Health at LRH with a long-time involvement in the organisation Specialists Without Borders.

The Australia-based group helps to provide medical education in developing countries such as Rwanda with specialists volunteering their time to lead training seminars for medical personnel.

Peter Burke began his association with the local area in 1987 when he was appointed Consultant General Surgeon at the former Latrobe Valley Hospital in Moe.

He represented the views of doctors and the Moe community during negotiations for the establishment of Latrobe Regional Hospital where he worked as a Senior Consultant General Surgeon from 1998-2011.

He has chaired senior medical staff groups and is a past chair of the Australian Medical Association’s Gippsland subdivision.

Mr Burke continues to practice at LRH and is involved in undergraduate medical student education.

George Owen has been practising orthopaedic surgery in Gippsland for more than 25 years and is the clinical lead in orthopaedics at LRH. He is also a member of the medical advisory committee and credentialing committee at LRH.

Dr Owen is widely known for his passion about research into spinal cord injuries and has brought the quest for a cure into the public arena through the organisation StepAhead of which he and wife Barbara are the founders.

StepAhead is currently funding and collaborating with research groups and on projects in Australia, Asia, Europe and North America.

RACS Victorian Regional Committee Executive Member Dr David Love said the Outstanding Service to the Community Award reflected the respect the three surgeons have for their profession and their community.

“David, Peter and George are outstanding members of the medical fraternity who have looked for ways to support the communities in which they live, through education and advocacy,” Dr Love said.

“It is refreshing to see their commitment in an era when so many people are dislocated from community life or extending themselves beyond their immediate interests.

“This award is a fitting tribute to three surgeons who are leaders, not just in their profession but in their communities.”

David Birks, Peter Burke and George Owen received their award at the inaugural Gippsland Surgical Society meeting in Traralgon in December.