Australian Chinese Medical Association South Australia

05 July, 2017

The Hon. J.S. LEE ( 17:36 ): I move:
That this council—

  1. Acknowledges the 25th anniversary of the Australian Chinese Medical Association SA (ACMA-SA);
  2. Pays tribute to past and present presidents and committee members of ACMA-SA for their leadership and long-term commitment to support charitable causes, community programs and health care services for the South Australian community; and
  3. Highlights the achievements and contributions of ACMA-SA and the Australian-Chinese medical professionals made to Australia and South Australia.

It is with great honour that I rise to move the motion standing in my name in this parliament today to acknowledge the 25th anniversary of the Australian Chinese Medical Association South Australia (ACMA-SA). As a member of parliament with Chinese heritage, it has been a privilege to have great friendships and a long-term association with the Australian Chinese Medical Association South Australia. ACMA is a reputable professional organisation for Chinese doctors and medical professionals in South Australia, and I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the outstanding achievements and contributions that ACMA and many Australian-Chinese medical professionals have made to Australia and South Australia.

Over the years, I have attended many ACMA functions and found them to be highly enjoyable and rewarding experiences. On 11 February this year, my esteemed colleague the Hon. Stephen Wade MLC, shadow minister for health, and I attended ACMA's Chinese Lunar New Year function. It was also the 25th anniversary gala dinner. The Hon. Stephen Wade, representing the state Liberal leader, Steven Marshall, the member for Dunstan, conveyed best wishes and congratulations. The other notable dignitary present on the night was the Hon. Julie Bishop, the federal Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The atmosphere at the gala dinner was uplifting when Dr Jane Zhang, the current president of ACMA-SA, made special acknowledgement of the many inspirational ACMA founders and leaders and outlined a number of rewarding charitable projects that ACMA has undertaken over the past 25 years.

We are indeed very fortunate to have so many highly qualified top class doctors, medical professionals and specialists who have chosen South Australia, initially as their educational destination to study medicine, and later on as their home. These high achievers have continued to build prominent careers within the public health system, as well as in the private health sector. Many are working in the most challenging of conditions and circumstances to look after the sick, the frail and the most vulnerable people in our community. They continue to deliver quality services to patients in the city and country regions. I express my gratitude to all doctors and medical professionals who have made significant contributions to keeping us in good health in South Australia.
I was informed that during the 1990s, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) questioned the whereabouts of Chinese doctors in our society, in particular in the public arena. This sparked Dr Bernard Goh, founding president of ACMA, to establish the South Australian branch of the Australian Chinese Medical Association.

The association enables South Australian Chinese doctors to have a public representation and a collective voice to speak up and engage with stakeholders and the community. To think that from that very humble beginning in the 1990s, from a little public representation, we now see that Dr William Tam, former president of ACMA, has become the first president of Chinese heritage to be duly elected as president of the Australian Medical Association of South Australia in May 2017 this year.

The association has definitely come a long way. Dr Bernard Goh, along with Dr Tham Siew Kiong, began drafting the constitution back in the 1990s to address the objectives and purpose of the association. The meeting was held at ACMA House, with a total of 35 doctors attending the first meeting. The constitution of the association was then adopted in July 1992.

The association had an inspirational beginning, with the first year of its operation filled with educational seminars and social networking dinners, with the aim to encourage more and more ethnic Chinese medical professionals to share professional knowledge, skills and social interests. The objective of ACMA was to maintain and update the standard of medical practice and continuous education for Chinese doctors in South Australia.

ACMA has supported many South Australian welfare, cultural and social organisations and businesses throughout their establishment, and it is becoming a more renowned and well-respected association within the South Australian community. The association remains non-political; members continue to contribute to ongoing public health policies, discussions with federal and state political leaders, Department of Health and Social Services and leading medical and health agencies.

ACMA has grown into a highly reputable, not-for-profit organisation based on its proud professional and philanthropic ambitions to serve the community. The ongoing success of the association is attributed to the exceptional leadership of the past and present presidents and committee members.

Since the establishment of ACMA, it has had a total of 12 presidents over 25 years. I pay tribute to their phenomenal leadership in advancing the work of the association and place their names on the public record and thank each one of them for their significant contributions: first, Dr Bernard Goh, founding President of ACMA, served from 1993 to 1995; Dr Siew Kiong Tham, 1995-96; Dr Frank Chiu served from 1997-99; Dr Richard Heah, 1999-2001; Dr Francis Ghan, 2001-03; Dr Ted Mah, 2003-05; Dr Johnny Wong, 2005-07; Dr Chin Hian Lim, 2007-09; Dr Evelyn Yap, 2009-10; Dr William Tam, 2010-12; Dr Evelyn Yap (returned again), 2012-13; Dr Lydia Huang, 2013-15; and Dr Jane Zhang, current president, 2015 to present.

On a personal note, I extend my sincere appreciation to particularly Dr Evelyn Yap and her husband Alex Hanin, Dr William Tam and Zeng Tam, Dr Lydia Huang and Dr Dennis Liu, Dr Jane Zhang and Dr Ted Mah for their wonderful friendship, guidance and advice, particularly about the health industry and some of the health issues within the Chinese community and the broader community.

The current committee consists of Dr Jane Zhang, the President, with Dr Xiu Peng, Dr Evelyn Yap, Dr Lydia Huang, Dr Kien Ha, Dr Earl Lam, Dr Richard Heah, Associate Professor William Tam, Dr Frank Chiu, Dr Francis Ghan, Dr Johnny Wong, Associate Professor Lillian Kow, Dr Benson Pek and Dr Rebecca Heah. Also, Young ACMA consists of Dr Joule Li and Dr Frank Zhang.

The secretariat has been managed by the delightful Tracey DiBartolo. She is always there to provide a great secretariat service to ACMA. She is also a walking encyclopedia of who's who of ACMA and the other medical associations in South Australia. I want to thank her for her wonderful work.

After ACMA was established in 1992, the Australian Chinese Medical Association Foundation was formed in 1996 with a charter to raise funds and deliver many successful not-for-profit projects in South Australia. The trustees within the ACMA Foundation are Dr Lap Kwong Han, Dr Bernard Goh, Dr Frank Chiu, Dr Francis Ling, and Dr Frances Ghan is the chair of the ACMA Foundation. They have gone beyond their core duties to deliver so much community service and mentoring of young doctors to provide them with inspiration and a pathway for growth. It is something to be highly commended.
With ACMA being very community orientated, it comes as no surprise that their social calendar accommodates events directed beyond the medical profession. Every year, they host a Chinese New Year dinner, the annual scientific meeting and award evenings for future generations. There are yearly awards directed by ACMA towards final-year medical students at the University of Adelaide and Flinders University. These awards also extend to matriculation students who receive high marks through the ACMA Education Fund. ACMA have always supported future development of the medical profession, particularly the advancement of medical and scientific research.

Throughout my involvement with ACMA SA and the foundation, I have been fortunate to attend a number of their charitable events. From the very humble beginnings of the ACMA Foundation dinner in 2001, they have now donated thousands of dollars to the community across a spectrum of welfare and educational organisations. For instance, last year, the ACMA Foundation contributed $15,000 to Teen Challenge, $5,000 to beyondblue and, in the previous year, the gala dinner raised $15,000 towards KickStart for Kids.

In 2013, ACMA invited Dr Charlie Teo, an internationally acclaimed neurosurgeon, as the guest speaker to the foundation gala dinner. Throughout the evening, a total of $50,000 was raised thanks to the generosity of guests, sponsors and members who attended the dinner. Part of the funds were donated to Dr Charlie Teo's Cure for Life Foundation, and the rest remained in the ACMA Foundation for ongoing charity work.

In addition to supporting local charities, in 2008, ACMA participated in raising funds for the Sichuan Earthquake Appeal. As we know, over 15 million people live in the affected region of Sichuan, including 4 million in the city of Chengdu. It was a devastating disaster that claimed 240,000 lives and caused 4.7 million people to lose their home.

The Federation of Chinese Organisations of South Australia, along with many Chinese organisations, including ACMA, organised a dinner at T-Chow restaurant in Adelaide Chinatown, one month after the earthquake. I had the privilege of co-emceeing the fundraising event with Mr Peter Yang. Over 260 guests attended the dinner. The function was organised at short notice but received overwhelming support from all the community-minded leaders in the Chinese community.

It was a humbling experience for me to witness members of the Chinese community of South Australia joining hands to support the earthquake appeal for Sichuan. Being the masters of ceremonies, Peter Yang and I also assisted in conducting the main auctions. Our hearts cried out to the victims in Sichuan, and the generous spirit of the audience raised the roof of the restaurant. The ACMA Foundation played an important role in raising $10,000 to contribute to the Sichuan earthquake appeal. I am very proud to report that, due to the collective efforts and the strong united community support of the South Australian Chinese community, an amazing sum of $200,000 was raised for the Sichuan earthquake appeal.

The ACMA Foundation provided a platform for many charitable organisations, as I mentioned earlier, focused on not just SA-based charities but also national and international charities. Some of the beneficiaries of the ACMA Foundation include the Medical Benevolent Association of SA, the flying doctors association, CanTeen, the Royal Society for the Blind, the Eyre Peninsula bushfire appeal and the Victorian bushfire appeal, just to name a few. The foundation also provided financial assistance, for example, to help a Chinese family whose son needed surgery at the Adelaide Women's and Children's Hospital. Their work is enormous and they have a strong connection to the community to deliver much-needed services.

ACMA and the foundation have grown from strength to strength and have become strong pillars for Chinese medical professionals and the broader community in South Australia. Throughout the last 25 years, the association has inspired other medical associations in their contributions to the general wellbeing of the community of South Australia. ACMA's leadership standards and practices across the board are highly commendable, as the committee and members of ACMA have gone beyond the call of duty to reach out to the community. I place my sincere gratitude on the public record and congratulate ACMA on their remarkable standing in the community.

The future of ACMA is definitely looking bright with increasing membership among the upcoming younger generation of doctors and medical students who will no doubt continue the legacy and the ambitions of ACMA and lead the association with renewed confidence, energy and determination. With those remarks, I congratulate the current president, past presidents and the committee for their wonderful work. I commend the motion to the Legislative Council to acknowledge the Australian Chinese Medical Association and congratulate ACMA on its 25th anniversary.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. T.J. Stephens.