Diagnosing the issues

Tari JeffersManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Paul Griffiths has found his home in Manjimup and loks forward to being involved in the future of the town.
Camera IconPaul Griffiths has found his home in Manjimup and loks forward to being involved in the future of the town. Credit: Manjimup-Bridgetown Times

A doctor and a community-minded man, Paul Griffiths has found a home in Manjimup.

Raised in Collie, Paul first came to Manjimup in October 2015 for his job at Southern Forests Medical Centre.

His arrival — and the arrival of the medical practice — put an end to an ongoing issue of a lack of available GP appointments in Manjimup.

“Peter Wutchak and his wife Tanya were looking to expand from Collie and they were originally looking further inland,” Paul said.

“Peter was at a meeting with some WACHS executives and someone asked if he had considered Manjimup.

“There had been some turmoil here, so there was an opportunity to improve things.”

Paul had been finishing up his training to be a specialist GP in Narrogin and was looking for his next step.

Having worked with Peter previously during his training, Paul accepted the opportunity to work in Manjimup.

“I got here and everything’s worked very well for me,” Paul said.

“I’ve certainly grown as a person, met my wife, having children, going up and onwards.”

Reflecting on what medicine has grown into in Manjimup has been rewarding for Paul, who said there had been a real, positive change.

“I came in here and saw the signs of a very much under-resourced health system,” he said.

“I don’t think we’ve even fully grown into what we can be here.”

One area Paul feels is still falling short is the long-term staffing of medical professionals and he has become involved in correcting the issue.

“One of my hats I’ve also taken on in the last year is the Rural Clinical School, which is training the university students who are going to be our future doctors to see this area as a viable career path,” he said.

“Of the four of this year’s students, two of them have already booked in for at least a short stint in their final year and the other two students have enrolled into the rural training pathway for their final year, based out of Bunbury.”

Another recent hat that Paul has acquired is the presidency of the Manjimup Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“This is proving to be an exceptional challenge to stand up to,” he said.

“I did have a little bit of leeway leading up to my time and this is the right time for it to happen for me.”

Paul said he would be applying his ability to see a problem and design a solution to his time as the Chamber president.

“I have a fantastic team who can take my ideas and make something happen,” he said.

His background as a doctor also suits the role, as he is able to be direct and have hard conversations.

“I’m comfortable to have nothing be sacred and everything has the option to be changed,” he said. “But I’m also good at changing my mind, I won’t fixate on one idea and if something needs to change with new information, it will.”

As a communicator, Paul said he was also good at fostering relationships between groups.

“I hope that’s what my legacy is and what I’m remembered for, that I was able to come in and I led, guided and I’ve communicated,” he said.

“I want us, the Chamber, to move forward to be something that is not a burden to the members or the executive.

“There’s been a lot of effort put into the Chamber over the years.”

Paul said, having looked over past agendas and correspondence, he could see how hard the previous Chamber executive boards had worked.

“We’re all volunteers, we’re all doing this off our own backs.”

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