2001 Sidney Sax Medallist - Dr Jon Mulligan

Throughout his career Jon has exhibited a dedication to and a belief in the public health system. Professionally he is interested in the application of principles of general management to health service management; the authority, autonomy and accountability of health professionals; the management of professional staff; bioethics and quality concepts.

These interests are clearly demonstrated by the manner he had undertaken senior positions in both the Tasmanian and Western Australian Health systems. Currently he holds the position of Director Medical Services, Bunbury Health Service. Previously he has held the positions of Tasmanian Director of Hospitals and Ambulance Service, Director and General Manager of the Northern and Southern Regional Health Boards in Tasmania, and Chief Executive Officer of the Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital Perth and of the Royal Hobart Hospital. Jon has also been extensively involved in the Australian Healthcare Association, Royal Australian College of Medical Administrators and the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards, recognising these associations play an invaluable role in the Australian Health System.

Jon has a unique capacity to examine particular issues or situations and carefully make a recommendation for action that is in the best interests of the total system. He is respected across the health system and throughout the country as a man of outstanding integrity. He is not one to provide an expedient response to resolve an issue. He will always examine the future consequences.

Jon has a great feel for people. He has never lost his respect for people as individuals and his respect for others is reciprocated by those around him and those with whom his responsibilities bring him in contact. He is respected universally for his quiet unassuming manner, making himself available to support others, and his provision of sound counsel. He manages to ensure that all parties believe they have been given a fair hearing even though the outcome may not be what they initially set out to achieve. Jon will have ensured the outcome is what is best for the public health system.

Since graduating from medicine Jon has maintained a passion for learning. He is a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Medical Administrators, and the Australian Institute of Management, and has been a fellow of the King Edward’s Hospital Fund for London. Indeed, many owe the progression of their careers to what they learnt whilst working with Jon.

The majority of Jon’s professional career has been spent in Tasmania and Western Australia. Following his acceptance of a position in the Bunbury Regional Health Service in February 2001 he commenced his third stint in the West which has been interspersed with three periods in Tasmania. Throughout his career he has also worked overseas spending three and a half years in the Republic of Nauru as the Senior Medical Officer for the Nauru Phosphate Corporation and had twelve months as a research fellow at the Flinders Medical Centre.

Following his return to Tasmania in 1996 as the Northern Regional Director a major review was undertaken of the public health system which resulted in a restructure of the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services. Jon was appointed the inaugural Director of the Hospitals and Ambulance Service, responsible for the three major hospitals and the Tasmanian Ambulance Service.

During this period he was committed to improving the quality of services provided and ensuring equitable access, by Tasmanians to appropriate public hospital services. He established clinical advisory structures within the key areas of surgery, medical, women’s and children’s services, pathology and imaging in order to allow a statewide perspective and clinical overview to balance regional developments and local needs, and he ensured that policy development carried the same balance. Indeed it was this sense of the needs of the whole system which distinguished Jon’s approach. He was always regarded as a person of outstanding integrity and fairness. He was also known as a valuable mentor and support to his staff.

Throughout his professional career Jon has made an enormous contribution to improving the quality of health services and systems. He was an inaugural member of the Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Healthcare. For nearly 10 years he was an accredited surveyor for the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS) and for five years was a preceptor for surveyors in Western Australia. In 1994 the Australian Healthcare Association nominated Jon as a Councillor for ACHS and in 1996 the Councillors elected him as a Board member. He is currently vice president of the ACHS Board. His extensive involvement in the health system and experience as a surveyor enables him to bring a wealth of knowledge to the ACHS Board. All councillors and Board members hold him in very high regard for his wise, carefully assessed and balanced views. The President has absolute faith and trust in his capacity and contribution to the Council and to the betterment of care for clients of the health system. Jon was also a member of the Australian Council for Safety & Quality in Health Care until his return to WA in February this year.

Jon has been a National Councillor for the Australian Health Care Association, initially for Western Australia and then for Tasmania. His contribution to national council was invaluable as he not only understood service delivery issues but also his involvement in national policy development enable him to present views at council meetings that others couldn’t. Jon has also been extensively involved in the State branches of the AHA and upon his return to Tasmania in 1996 was responsible for re-invigorating the State branch and ensuring it provided its members with a range of activities.

There are few individuals within the Australian health system who have Jon’s record of quiet integrity and performance, intellect and humanity. He is held in the highest regard by those he works with and that exceptional regard has generated this nomination.