As well as being the general practitioner in the one-doctor town of Eidsvold, in central Queensland, Brad Murphy pursues his passion for better indigenous health as chairman of the National Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and is medic to a string of country-music stars.

Story By Annabelle Brayley

A couple of years ago, Brad Murphy was running a clinic at Theodore in central Queensland when Emerald Brophy walked in the door. She is the daughter of boxing legend Fred Brophy, and Brad couldn’t resist greeting her in traditional troupe style. “Rally on the drum, ring on the bell. Come in Emerald Brophy!” Sitting in the waiting room, two elderly ladies nodded sagely, saying, “You’ll find our doctor’s a little bit different.”
Different indeed. At age 45, Dr Brad Murphy graduated just five years ago, being one of the first alumnae of the James Cook University (JCU) School of Medicine. Despite his short time as a doctor, this descendant of the indigenous Kamilaroi people was this year appointed chairman of the National Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. An initiative of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), this new faculty is focused on raising general practitioners’ awareness of indigenous health needs. It sponsors culturally appropriate delivery systems and is developing a range of resources to assist health teams working with indigenous patients and communities. Brad is also treasurer of the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland and one of three trustees of the Jimmy Little Foundation. Juggled in between are assorted committees and groups, all of which he sees as opportunities to give something back.
Ophthalmologist and past president of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Bill Glasson, met Brad when he was a new student at JCU and says it’s the multi-faceted aspects of Brad’s life that set him apart. “It was his passion and his ability to relate well to people at a personal level that allowed him into medicine,” Bill says. “Everybody who came into contact with Brad wanted to support him and see him realise his dream. Brad is more than just a rural doctor of indigenous background. He is a man who brings a rich perspective on life and exemplifies the importance of getting involved in opportunities outside of your normal day-to-day life.”
A passion for country music is apparent from the large television screen in his waiting room at Eidsvold, which is permanently tuned to the Country Music Channel (CMC). He not only knows a number of the country-music singers in Australia but he looks after their health as well.
Four-time CMC Australian Artist of the Year Adam Brand recalls meeting Brad. “He contacted me to sign a guitar he was auctioning off for charity and that tells you a lot about him; everything he does, he does for others,” Adam says. “His heart is even bigger than his long list of achievements. Mind you, I’ve heard him sing at the top of his lungs after a can or two and all I can say is, as a singer he is a great doctor! But he looks after us.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #71

Outback Magazine: June/July 2010