Monday , October 21 2019
Home / National News / Significant contributor to national and state-based medical services

Significant contributor to national and state-based medical services

He was a distinguished alumnus of Caulfield Grammar School. It was the only school he ever attended. At CGS he was a prefect, a dedicated cadet, and the founder of a very successful music club.

Raoul Tunbridge: A designated aviation medical examiner for 40 years.

Raoul Tunbridge: A designated aviation medical examiner for 40 years.

He graduated from Melbourne University as a medical practitioner, that is, bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery, in December 1952. In late 1952, he was appointed registrar of the Prince Henry Hospital in Melbourne, a position he held for two years.

He had a close relationship with his younger sister Barbara. William Grice, one of his best friends from school, married Barbara and so became his brother-in-law.

As a door stop GP, he first practised in Traralgon (1955), then established and practised at the highly successful Langton Medical Centre in Dandenong (1965-1980), later relocating to Mount Eliza (1980-1990) and Towerhill at Frankston (1990-2000). In his semi-retirement, he was part of the Collins Street Medical Practice (2000-2014) and Southend Medical in Hampton (2014-2015). He ceased work at 88 years of age.

Raoul took it for granted that a professional in society should go over and above the call of duty and voluntarily donate a substantial amount of quality time to organisations that contributed to the good of society as a whole. He was, for example, a foundation member of Rotary International in Dandenong East.

These were the days before Medibank and Medicare when general practitioners were known as “physicians and surgeons” and did most of the procedures now done by specialists. I recall that frequently he would leave his surgery at Langton to head for the operating theatre at the Dandenong Hospital.

He was a great supporter of the Dandenong Hospital where he was, among other things, president of the committee of management, medical director, and director of emergency services.

My other memory of Raoul Tunbridge was that those who did not have any money were not billed. In these days before Medibank (1974) and Medicare, those in personal difficulties were looked after pro bono by the medical profession.

His leadership roles included chairman of obstetrics at Monash University (1965-1973), president of the board of management of the Metropolitan Ambulance Service (1986-1993), and CEO of the Victorian Academy of General Practice (1984-1994). The last included flying his plane to hospitals all over Victoria, supervising and mentoring medical post-graduates.

He is best known for his work in establishing Displan – the medical disaster plan for Victoria, for which he received the OAM. Throughout Victoria, Raoul organised more than 50 medical response groups that would be prepared “first responders” in the event of an earthquake, a train, bus or plane crash, a terrorist bombing – you name it. He also wrote the Australian Emergency Manual for Disaster Medicine, which was to be the handbook text for his successors.

Raoul’s favourite vocation was as an accredited medical assessor of health and fitness for pilots. By law, all airmen have to front up for their prescribed regular medical check-ups. As a pilot himself it was a work he loved. These clients loved him, too.

Dr Nathan Koch represented the airmen who formed a guard of honour at his funeral. Koch stated that they always felt they not only fronted a skilled and knowledgeable medico, but a supportive person and their advocate with, at times, a somewhat capricious and ignorant public service.

On his 90th birthday at the Sandringham Yacht Club the grateful pilots saluted and honoured him with an eight-plane flypast.

Raoul Tunbridge had, by any standard, a laudable record as husband, father, grandfather, and loyal friend. As his son, Nicholas, said at his funeral:

I asked him once what he would pass on to anyone who respected his life experiences. His answer was persistence. – “Nick, it’s so important to just keep going, never stop – and if something goes wrong, fix the bloody thing, and if you can’t fix it, then forget it and move on.”

Raoul’s skills, ethics and dedication were a remarkable contribution to us all and to his society. He has passed on. The lives of us all, and those who knew loved and admired him must be diminished.

Raoul Tunbridge is survived by his wife of 38 years, Christine, her daughter Kate and children, and Raoul’s sons, Anthony, Nicholas and David from his first marriage to Brenda, and their spouses and children.

Close friend Dally Messenger was assisted in writing this tribute by Christine Tunbridge and Nicholas Tunbridge.

Most Viewed in National

Loading

About admin

Check Also

WA man was on bail at same time as alleged attempted Mandurah murder

A Mandurah man was on bail around the same time he is accused of attempting …