LGBTQIA+ advocate and community leader Dr Dan Wilson is a finalist for the Leadership and Innovation Award in the 2021 Community Achievement Awards.
The awards started in 2002. They encourage, acknowledge and reward the valuable contributions individuals, communities and businesses make throughout regional and rural Victoria.
Dr Wilson said he felt honoured and proud to be acknowledged for his contributions to regional Victoria.
"I wasn't even aware I was nominated for the award first of all," Dr Wilson said.
"It is a pretty big honour to be nominated for any sort of award, it definitely acknowledges the significant work that you put into the job and dedication to various regional communities.
"It was an honour just to be nominated, then to be successful in making it through to the semi-final round and now making a finalist out of four people it is pretty exciting."
Dr Wilson said growing up in Kempsey, a small town in the mid-north coast of New South Wales, limited his growth and opportunities, which led him to move to Victoria.
"It is about the same size as Ararat so I feel at home in towns of this sort of size," he said.
"I was discouraged as a young kid, If they are known to be bright or be a high achiever you can often still have resistance or barriers put up by people who really mean well for you but don't want to see you fail.
"I think a lot of young kids in small towns probably have that experience.
"I settled on being a doctor at some point in my undergraduate degree and since graduating I have always worked regional or rural."
Dr Wilson said while working with EGHS for the past two years had confirmed his passion for rural and regional medicine.
"I'm a better fit here, I feel more comfortable in a rural setting and I think my professional skills fit better as well," he said.
"I don't think the skill set I have as a rural GP really fit in all that well in a metropolitan area, say you go see someone who is very specialised in their area of expertise, whereas working in a rural area you need to know a little about everything.
"I did want to go to the city for a short period of time, and I did. It's a place for me to visit but definitely not a place for me to work long term."
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Dr Wilson was nominated for the award by his colleagues from the rural doctors association Victoria for his admirable work in improving healthcare delivery for rural Australians and being a leader for the LGBTQIA+ community.
As a board director of Rural Doctors Association Australia, Dr Wilson helped design and implement the #DestinationRural campaign, which received a $450,000 Commonwealth grant to entice doctors to practice in rural communities.
"Essentially it is a series of programs that are targeted at both medical students and junior doctors to entice them to have a good experience in a rural setting," he said.
"Lately we have been running online webinars to give people an idea of what it is like to work in the bush.
"Destination rural has continued to have funding and it is really pleasing to see it grow each year."
Dr Wilson has been the medical editor of The Leadership Review magazine since 2020 and said his work for the magazine could lead him to work in a communications role in the future.
"I have always been someone that has enjoyed communicating and writing is certainly one way to do that, it's been a really good way to work outside of just the medical profession," he said.
"When the pandemic first started there was a lot of interest having me review, respond and contribute to articles.
"I think interacting and communicating health information with the public is something I feel strongly about, "journalism crosses all sectors, so I have enjoyed it.
"I see myself working in a key communication role in either a state or federal department which communicates health information. We get all this messaging about COVID-19 and it's really important to get that messaging right."
Dr Wilson is proud to give back to the LGBTQIA+ community by mentoring young scholars of The Pinnacle Foundation.
"The pinnacle foundation is a organisation that pairs mentors with mentees that identify as LGBTQ+ it is a bit of a niche area of mentorship," he said.
"It's a really good program because they don't force anyone to come together, it's actually the mentee who will pick their mentor.
"The program explores what it means to be queer or gender non conforming it depends on the person that you are working with.
"It is usually centred around identity in the workplace and seeing how they can use their unique identity to progress their own career and about how they can fit in in their professional environment."
Dr Wilson said being raised in a single-parent household, his mother inspired him to give back.
"The experiences that I have had informed how I think I can give back to people. Being strongly raised by women, being gay myself, I feel comfortable and skilled to give back to those communities," he said.
"It sounds corny, but my mother has been a big inspiration for me.
"People who inspire me are usually the people who have been involved in my life closely.
"A lot of my inspiration, especially to work in women's health actually comes from being raised by a woman mostly and having women support me."
Dr Wilson said he looked forward to calling regional Victoria home and continuing to work for EGHS.
"At the moment I am completing a year of training in obstetrics, helping women when they are pregnant, deliver their babies and that will finish very early next year," he said.
"The past few years I have been working across Ballarat and Ararat. Next year I am going to do a year in Maryborough. Long term I see myself working across the Grampians region, and those three sights will be where I will work, Maryborough, Ararat and Ballarat."
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