Forrest Electorate: Val Lishman Health Research Foundation

The Val Lishman Health Research Foundation, based in Bunbury in the South West of WA, is the only regional based charity in Australia dedicated to advocating for and promoting local health research. This research will have significant health gains for regional Australia. The foundation is an independent organisation owned and run by the community with a very focused volunteer board. It is unique in Australia. The foundation only endorses high-quality projects, and a volunteer research management committee working with local community stakeholders advises the board on research priorities and assesses individual projects.

People living in the South West and those around regional Australia will continue to benefit from the work of the foundation. Some of the current projects include mental health and improving quality of life for autistic children and their families in rural communities. The methamphetamine and alcohol project is another project. Previous projects include the professional development for suicide prevention, several cancer projects, health of the ageing workforce, Ross River virus research—just to name a few.

The foundation was named after a truly inspirational and great man, Dr Val Lishman, AM. Dr Lishman died last year. I would like to read excerpts from The Man in the Surgical Mask; Val Lishman. A Life Well Lived, compiled by Margaret Mardon.

In 1965 Dr Val Lishman, a surgeon, was the first specialist to work away from the city, in … Western Australia. We are inspired by his example of selfless community service, kindness and concern for holistic health. The Foundation, established at his retirement, celebrates his extraordinary career.

[He] arrived here from the UK in the mid 60s to work at the hospital [in Bunbury] only to find that it hadn’t been built. The first surgeon to practice outside of Perth, he was pioneering in many ways. Dr Lishman had great humility and was much loved and respected both for his work and for his personal kindness.

In 1992, Val Lishman became a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to medicine through the establishment of a surgical practice in the South West of Western Australia. Given his outstanding contribution to medicine Val has been recognised by many awards. These are surpassed by the regard in which he is held by his patients and venerated by his profession.

… … …

In 1997, when Dr Lishman announced his retirement, the inaugural board asked his permission to name the Foundation in recognition of his service and contributions to medicine in the South West. Val was stunned and honoured by the establishment of the Foundation. He said, “Every hospital or group of doctors should have research. Research directly benefits hospitals. Young doctors, registrars, and interns should be encouraged to work on projects. Advancement results from everyone looking at their work critically, following up ideas and sharing them with other people”.

Vale, Dr Lishman. The work of the Lishman Foundation will endure in the same way that his personal legacy will endure.