Peter Greste shares Egyptian jail experience with Rural Health West Doctors’ Service awards


Journalist Peter Greste sharing his story of imprisonment with rural doctors at the awards night.
Peter Greste shares Egyptian jail experience with Rural Health West Doctors’ Service awards
Journalist Peter Greste sharing his story of imprisonment with rural doctors at the awards night.

AWARD-winning foreign correspondent Peter Greste spoke about his time behind bars in an Egyptian cell at a WA awards night for rural doctors.

The former Al Jazeera journalist shared the story of his 400-day imprisonment and his journey to make sense of the experience by becoming an advocate for press freedom and free speech.

Greste no longer works as a foreign correspondent because he is a convicted terrorist and his travel options are limited.

He is one of three ABC journalists behind tonight’s Four Corners program, What does Facebook really know about you?

The 2015 Human Rights Medal winner spoke about finding resilience in adversity in front of more than 160 guests at the Rural Health West Doctors’ Service awards and conference on Saturday.

“Rural doctors prepare to embrace the unexpected, particularly those who work in remote areas of the state, and Peter shared the incredible story of just how he did that,” a Rural Health West spokeswoman said.

Among the doctors to be recognised was Marie Fox, of Grey Street Surgery in Northam, who received an award for more than 20 years of service in rural medicine.

The Northam-born doctor graduated from UWA in 1982, and worked in the country town for many years having previously specialised in obstetrics and anaesthesia.

WA Governor Kerry Sanderson presented the awards at the award night attended by the Deputy Premier and Minister for Health Roger Cook, who acknowledged the contributions of rural doctors across the State.

Dr Fox was one of three doctors in the Wheatbelt recognised for outstanding service and long-term commitment to rural communities.

Steve Lai, a general surgeon based in Narrogin, received the award for extraordinary contribution to outreach services and Olga Ward, who cares for patients living in Bruce Rock, Merredin, Narembeen and Westonia, collected the award for remote and clinically challenging medicine.

For the past 15 years, Dr Ward has boarded her plane ‘Pinky’ and flown between rural locations to provide family medicine, women’s health clinics, minor surgeries and emergency cover throughout the Eastern Wheatbelt.

Dr Ward said she has had many memorable moments working in the Wheatbelt.

“There are lots of highlights including learning to play badminton – Southern Cross rules, watching the Westonia Hood-Penn museum come to life, eating yabbies from my receptionist’s dam for lunch in Bruce Rock, and making lifelong friends with astonishingly talented and versatile people,” she said.

Rural Health West chief executive Tim Shackleton said it was a privilege to acknowledge the commitment of rural doctors.

“These doctors have dedicated their careers to supporting rural communities and should be proud of the contribution they have made to the health and wellbeing of people living in the Wheatbelt,” he said.

Rural Health West is a not-for-profit organisation primarily funded through the WA Country Health Service and the Australian Government.