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Vale Dr Geoff White

11th August 2022

NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN) wishes to express its great sadness at the passing of Dr Geoff White OAM, whose significant contribution to rural health will be felt for generations to come.  Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.

     Manilla Geoff White MYoung_cropped   

Dr Geoff White with former RDN staff member Mrs Margaret Young


"Dr White was one of the first board members of NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN) and for decades he has been a core part of this family. His drive and his passion for rural health helped embed the sense of community and commitment that remain at the heart of RDN to this day," says Mike Edwards, Acting Chief Executive at RDN.

Dr White was a ferocious advocate for rural health and played a central role in shaping its current institutions.

In 1987 a dispute between rural GPs and the State Government nearly culminated in the mass resignation of rural doctors from rural NSW hospitals. The dispute led to the 1987 formation of the Rural Doctors Association, NSW (RDA (NSW)), with Geoff White at the helm. The following year, the Rural Doctors Resource Network (RDRN) was established, which evolved to become the NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN) we now know. Dr White joined the RDN Board around the time of its incorporation in 1998.

The 1987 dispute was the catalyst for the growth of the rural doctors' political movement and led to the articulation of the core principles that define RDN to this day:

  • Communities should define their own healthcare needs.
  • Health professionals should define their initial and continuing education needs.
  • Support services must be evaluated both from the point of view of the community and by the health professionals involved with them.

RDN Chair A/Prof John Kramer OAM first met Dr White in 1998 and in 1999 worked closely with him to develop a pilot scheme of distant supervision for remote registrars, known as 'the Mungindi Solution'. 

"I well recall travelling around North West NSW in 1998 with Geoff, along with Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, Health Minister Michael Wooldridge and the leaders of AMA, RACGP and RDAA. We visited to towns such as Gunnedah, Mudgee, Ashford and Moree. It was my initiation into rural medical politics," says Dr Kramer. 

"I remember Geoff as being quietly effective in mixing with such a group and the accompanying media circus. Mungindi was the focus of concern at that time as it was an example of how young doctors were thrown into the deep end and expected to survive. Geoff was an ardent advocate for better support for young doctors, including championing programs such as the Remote Vocational Training Scheme."

However, Dr Kramer also recalls a man who was equally as committed to his family and community, serving as GP in Manilla for over 40 years.  As a family doctor, he was known for his humour, kindness and dedication to service.

Dr White was deeply loved and he will be sorely missed. Today, on the day of his funeral, RDN is joining Dr White's friends, family, colleagues and community in Manilla to say farewell and celebrate his impressive contribution to rural health.  

RDN will work with his family to identify the best way to acknowledge Dr White's contributions.

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