The memory of a Kojonup farming legend will live on thanks to a new medical centre named in his honour, and opened today, that has been majority funded by a generous donation from his estate and a $750,000 capital grant from the Morrison Government.
Federal Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson said the $750,000 Commonwealth investment in the $1.62 million project added to a $530,000 bequest from late Kojonup farmer George Church and contributions from the Shire and community of Kojonup.
“Today’s opening of the George Church Community Medical Centre is fitting testimony to the generosity of Mr Church who passed away in 2015, dedicating his bequest to his late wife, Tricia, who was a long-serving nurse in the Kojonup community,” Mr Wilson said.
“Along with Tricia, George and other members of his family have been heavily involved down through the decades in providing healthcare in Kojonup.
“In the early 1920s, George’s mother, Emily, was instrumental in creating the Kojonup District Hospital, and both he and his sister Gwen, a career nurse and hospital matron, at various times served on the hospital’s Board.”
Mr Wilson said that, in keeping with the hands-on involvement of Mr and Mrs Church, the Kojonup community had always insisted that the new medical centre be community driven and community owned.
“This medical centre has been a labour of love for a community determined to see a lasting legacy to George and Tricia Church,” he said.
“I am proud to have helped deliver such a valuable asset for the town of Kojonup and its surrounding shire.
“The new medical centre will provide synergies with the Kojonup and Katanning hospitals, and the adjacent Springhaven Lodge aged care facility.”
Mr Wilson said employment opportunities would be generated for Kojonup and the wider Great Southern region due to the attraction and retention of quality health services.
“Attracting health professionals to regional towns can be challenging, but this new medical centre will help create a modern space to cater for the needs of doctors and allied health professionals,” he said.
“This investment demonstrates the Morrison Government’s commitment to improving health services throughout regional Australia and building a world class health system.”
The medical centre will contain eight clinical rooms to accommodate GPs and allied health professionals servicing Kojonup and surrounding areas including provision for eHealth, Aboriginal health, occupational therapy, and drug and alcohol and domestic violence programs.
Mr Wilson said people in regional areas should expect the same level of quality health care as is available in the city.
“It’s important our senior citizens can stay in their community and receive the care they need, rather than relocating to metropolitan areas,” he said.
“Families need reliable and sustainable access to quality health care for all stages of family life.
“GPs and young health professionals will also gain a fantastic opportunity to live and work in a thriving regional community.”
Mr Church, who lived to the age of 96, was a contemporary of Mr Wilson’s father at Narrogin agricultural school in the 1930s.
“All his working life, George never missed a Katanning sheep sale,” Mr Wilson recalled.
“I remember as a kid waiting for the school bus and, like clockwork, George driving past at eight o’clock every Thursday on his way to the saleyards.
“Earlier, in 1939, George joined the 25th Light Horse Machine Gun Regiment, fought for this great country and was a prisoner of war.”
After returning to Kojonup after World War II, Mr Church married Tricia in 1957.
“Although having no children themselves, their farm was always full of children and laughter,” Mr Wilson said.
“George left a tremendous legacy, and will be remembered as a true gentleman and a generous contributor to the Kojonup community.”
Photos of the centre’s opening on January 12, 2021 are available on request.
- Chris Thomson 0467 710 180