President’s Message

In   Issue Volume 16 No. 4 .

Vale Sandy Ferguson – 1917-2008

It is with great sadness that the Association records the passing of one of its Honorary Members, Surgeon Captain AS “Sandy” Ferguson, AM RFD VRD* RANR (Retd).

Sandy Ferguson was an inspiration to all those who met him. An institution among Naval Reservists in Melbourne, and particularly at the former HMAS Lonsdale, Sandy is remembered for his experience, knowledge, wit and wisdom, things that he amply demonstrated at the 1995 AMMA conference dinner when he spoke of his various wartime experiences on the occasion of him being made an Honorary Member of the Association.

Sandy was also, of course, a stalwart of the Hawthorn football Club, as both club doctor (1950-1979) and President (1953-1967), and under his Presidency the club achieved Premiership success for the first time in 1961.

Sandy was also Federal President of the Naval Association of Australia from 1975 to 1990.

Sandy’s passing is a great loss to us all and he will be sadly missed.

A full article on the life and achievements of Sandy Ferguson will be published in the October issue of the Journal.

Changes at the Top


There has been a recent change to the leadership of the Defence Health Services, with the retirement of Air Vice Marshal Tony Austin RAAF from the position of Head, Defence Health Services on the 1st of July 2008, and the appointment of Major General Paul Alexander as his replacement.

I must firstly pay tribute to Tony for his ongoing and committed support to AMMA during his time as HDHS. During his time in the position, AMMA has held two joint conferences with the DHS – in 2002 and again in 2006. Both of these conferences were outstanding events with 500-600 delegates and a wealth of scientific and professional material presented. Tony had also given his blessing to the continuation of these events on a triennial basis, with the next one scheduled for 2009.

I understand that Tony is going to spend six months touring the country (I hesitate to use the usual descriptive term) and then settle north of Sydney to pursue his other love – sailing. On behalf of the Association, I wish Tony all the best for the future.

MAJGEN Paul Alexander comes to the position with a unique breadth of clinical and management experience, both within the Defence Force and in the civilian health sector.

Following undergraduate medical training at the University of Melbourne, Paul has enjoyed a long career in both the permanent and reserve components of the Australian Army in addition to making a significant contribution to primary health care policy, risk management and legal medicine in Queensland.

Paul’s military medical career has included RMO responsibilities for 3 RAR, with the PNGDF and SASR, command of both 11 Field Ambulance and the 1st Military  Hospital, Yeronga, and as SMO for the 1st Division. He has served on detachments with UK medical units and on exchange to the US Army Medical Department where he contributed his professional input to Capabilities, Combat and Doctrine Development, including the redevelopment of US Army battlefield hospital systems.

During his reserve service, Paul has served as Director Reserve Health Services – Army in Queensland and Assistant Surgeon General ADF – Army. Operationally, he deployed with the initial peacekeeping force to Bougainville and later deployed as the public health specialist for the UN Peace Keeping Force in East  Timor.

Paul holds postgraduate qualifications in Sports Medicine and Tropical Medicine as well as a Masters in Legal Medicine and a Fellowship of the Australian  College of Legal Medicine.  In recent years he has been actively involved in risk management and legal medicine, including as principal medico-legal adviser in Queensland for the Medical Indemnity Protection Society. He has also been extremely active in civilian clinical practice, including as managing partner of a large group practice, and as Chairman of the Redcliffe Division of General Practice.

On behalf of the Association, I would like to congratulate Paul on his appointment as Surgeon General Australian Defence Force and Head Defence Health Services. The Association looks forward to working with him in support of our common endeavours to advance the health and medical disciplines that support military personnel, both during and after their service.

2008 Conference

Planning is well underway for the 2008 AMMA conference to be held in Hobart from the 17th to the 19th of October 2008. Over 70 abstracts have been submitted, and the Organising Committee is currently working its way through these. I have no doubt that a jam-packed and stimulating conference programme will be supported by the social and gastronomic delights of Tasmania.
Registration for the conference can be made through the Association’s web site at and I would encourage you to register soon to take advantage of the early bird discounts. As always, the AMMA conference is a bargain with early bird registration (to the 22nd of August) for members only $600.
Hobart promises to be yet again a great conference and I look forward to seeing you there.