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John Curtin Medallists

Mrs Lynne Evans (2005)

Mrs Lynne Evans - 2005 John Curtin Medal recipient Mrs Lynne Evans - 2005 John Curtin Medal recipient

Mrs Lynne Evans began her career in nursing and midwifery, before going on to study a Bachelor of Applied Science in Community Nursing. Her interest in community work led her to the Health Department where her natural aptitude and leadership skills were soon recognised.

She was promoted to a senior management position as Coordinator of the Strategic Development Department at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. After a few years, Mrs Evans decided to forgo this prestigious role and pursue her primary interest, providing support and advocacy for the homeless.

For the past six years, she has worked as CEO of the Perth based St Bartholomew's House - an organisation that provides crisis and transitional accommodation as well as related support services for homeless people. Mrs Evans' vision for St Bart's is for a supportive and safe environment that looks beyond the boundaries of institutionalised care and towards services and facilities that provide individuals with the skills and support to function within the community. She understands that people don't simply become homeless; there are causes that may relate to mental illness, prolonged drug dependence or the economic environment. Once this has been understood, it is imperative that residents regain their sense of self-worth by reacquainting themselves with the society from which they have disassociated.

Mrs Evans' personalised approach to her work is remarkable. She demands that each resident is seen as an individual and is treated with respect and dignity. Mrs Evans personally involves herself in the hardest cases, making huge personal contributions by acting as next-of-kin to individuals who no longer have contactable relatives. She has personally cared for the sick and dying, often on weekends or overnight. In many instances, it has been left to Mrs Evans to ensure former residents receive dignified funerals and a place for their ashes to be scattered. Her commitment to this vision is echoed in the extraordinary leadership she exhibits as CEO of St Bart's, an organisation that has flourished under her direction. Originally St Bart's was a shelter for homeless men, consisting of only a few mattresses on a church-hall floor. The St Bart Independent Living Program, established in 1995, has grown significantly, with over 65 properties in the wider community.

Community service has complemented much of Mrs Evans' work at St Bart's. Whilst successfully steering the organisation to its current position, she has continued her voluntary work. She has been active in a wide range of government and non-government organisations, including being past chair and member of the Hills Community Support Group and is currently Chair of the Board of The Community Housing Coalition, WA. She has also presented submissions to the Human Rights Commission, Department of Health and Ageing and the Standing Committee on Environment and Public Affairs.

Through education, Mrs Evans believes the lack of support services and stigma surrounding the mentally ill and homeless can be overcome and she is committed to pursuing this mission. In 2003, she suffered a stoke and after only a short break returned to work more determined and enthusiastic than ever to continue her plans for St Bart's.

Mrs Lynne Evans is indeed a most worthy recipient of the John Curtin Medal.

Work undertaken since receiving the John Curtin Medal

The year in which Lynne Evans was awarded the John Curtin Medal heralded the beginning of a new building project for St Bartholomew’s House and culminated in the opening of the $35 million St Bart’s Lime Street, East Perth, in 2012.

As the homeless shelter’s CEO until 2012, Lynne oversaw the project and overcame the many challenges along the way, with support from the board, staff and many donors including funding support from the federal and state governments.

For the first time in 50 years, St Bart’s was able to offer women longer-term accommodation in its East Perth facility. The move to Lime Street also meant having land available for future development of accommodation for the homeless or those at risk of homelessness to achieve affordable housing on the old site. The ultimate facility sits comfortably in the East Perth community and has increased the range of homeless accommodation options.

Before Lynne retired from St Bart’s, she began writing the history of the facility, particularly to highlight the many people who had contributed to St Bart’s success and reputation. She proposes to publish ‘The Heart of St Bart’s’ as an online book.

After finishing at St Bart’s, Lynne served as acting CEO of the national homelessness peak body in Canberra, where she had been a board member for some years.

She then returned to her nursing background, working as a volunteer in Manila for two years, helping others in the treatment of cleft lip and palate, and burn injuries.

She has been Chair of Indigo Junction (formally Swan Emergency Service), which provides support and accommodation to homeless youth and many Aboriginal Families.

Lynne attributes her passion for community health to Emeritus Professor Robyn Watts, who she considers ‘a guiding light’ in promoting the importance of prevention strategies and care in the community.

John Curtin Medallists

Dr David Joske (2005)

Dr David Joske - 2005 John Curtin Medal recipient Dr David Joske - 2005 John Curtin Medal recipient

Dr David Joske is a leading WA haematologist and founder of the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (SCGH) Brownes Dairy Cancer Support Centre, which opened in 2001.

Dr Joske has dedicated his career to alleviating cancer related illness and suffering through education, research and treatment. After graduating from The University of Western Australia in 1983, he went on to specialise in haematology. Dr Joske then travelled overseas, spending four years furthering his knowledge in the field before returning to Perth in 1994, when he was offered the prestigious position of Head of the Department of Haematology at SCGH.

After working for several years, it became apparent to Dr Joske that the current medical system did not provide sufficient support for cancer sufferers. Assistance beyond standard cancer treatment was not offered and as a result, many patients were looking toward alternative therapies, such as massage, counselling and meditation, to supplement their treatments. Dr Joske vigorously researched such therapies and found promising results. He was particularly impressed with the work being done by the MacMillian Cancer Relief program in England. Like others, he began to question why modern medicine automatically detaches the mind from the body, often ignoring the person in which the disease is living.

Dr Joske had a vision to re-examine the links between the body and mind through the vehicle of a cancer support centre, housed in a conventional hospital. The facility would offer touch-based, complementary therapies such as pranic healing, reiki, kinesiology, reflexology, massage, chi breathing and counselling. The service would be free of charge to patients and their carers. Not only would this centre provide the support that was lacking, it would also facilitate research into the effects of complementary therapies, through rigorous scientific research.

Under Dr Joske's leadership, this vision was realised. By 2001, he had attracted substantial sponsorship from Peters and Brownes foods and the Leukaemia Foundation, which was soon followed by in-kind assistance from Edith Cowan University and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. He was also instrumental in securing a team of interested doctors, researchers, business people, volunteers and collaborators that soon supported and ran the Centre. The Centre was the first of its kind to be established in Australia and remains a unique venture within a public teaching hospital setting.

Dr Joske has spent considerable time promoting the Cancer Support Centre. He has spoken at conferences around the country on the role of complementary therapies in western medicine. His reputation as a leading haematologist and the dedication with which he has pursued this vision have assisted in complementary therapies gaining acceptance in the community and winning over the most sceptical of critics.

Dr Joske's contribution to the community in Western Australia has been immense. As a leading specialist, member of countless medical boards and a university lecturer, he has used his expertise to educate and treat. His ability to look outside convention will be his greatest legacy. The Centre has proved hugely successful, offering over 15 complementary therapies and operating at maximum capacity with over 150 clients weekly. Researchers have measured the benefits of such therapies and have proven that the Centre's work unequivocally alleviates anxiety and has a measurable effect upon patients' quality of life. The facility has grown to such a point that a foundation is now needed to support all the extra work that is being undertaken; it will be named SolarisCare.