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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.