Life Member Awards

Rob Curry (Albury NSW) - 2020

On Thursday 26th November 2020 the Hon. Mark Coulton, Minister for Regional Health, announced that a SARRAH Honorary Life Membership has been conferred upon Rob Curry, who retired as President the same week.

Rob trained as a physiotherapist and after brief stints in rural South Australia and Queensland he moved to Darwin in late 1983. He went on to spend 30 years working in the Northern Territory, mostly providing physiotherapy services to Aboriginal communities outside of Darwin.

Rob travelled to remote communities like Maningrida, the Tiwi Islands and Oenpelli, involving lots of flying in light aircraft or driving 4WD vehicles and occasionally boats to get to some communities.

At the time, Rob was the only physiotherapist for about 14,000 people living in remote communities.

In an interview for the Health Times in 2015, Rob observed that the main health issues these communities faced arose from stroke, amputation or other major injuries or illnesses. He said that that people who had difficulty moving around independently “…would get pressure sores or chest infections … and ultimately end up in hospital or pass away.”

He went on to say that access to physiotherapy services could make the difference between people living in the community or going to hospital or an aged care facility in Darwin.

Professionally, Rob developed an interest in cross-cultural and multidisciplinary approaches to primary health care.

He went on to complete a Graduate Diploma in Aboriginal Studies and a Masters in Primary Health Care, and moved into management and public health roles in Aboriginal Health in the Territory.

Rob worked for the Tiwi Health Board and then with the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory (AMSANT). He also served on the Board of the Australian Physiotherapy Association and the National Rural Health Alliance. Rob is a founding member and President of SARRAH.

For many years Rob has provided leadership for remote and rural allied health professionals and continues to identify and develop future leaders in rural allied health to sustain the momentum.

Now semi-retired, Rob continues to speak out about individuals, families and communities in rural and remote areas of Australia, in particular Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, getting the services they need to live the best, most independent and meaningful lives they can.

In conferring this Honorary Life Membership, the SARRAH Board acknowledges the commitment, compassion and drive that have been the hallmarks of Rob’s career spanning four decades.

Rob, we wish you well, and we thank you for your significant contribution to SARRAH and to rural Allied Health.