Why GP: Dr John van Bockxmeer

Posted on 1st Jul 2019

A career path in general practice has delivered Dr John van Bockxmeer a flexible work life that has enabled the WAGPET alumni to pursue his other passions – charity and volunteer work.

John, who has achieved a long list of accolades including National Finalist Young Australian of the Year 2014 and Western Australia’s 2014 Young Australian of the Year, had originally planned to specialise in emergency and general practice.

However, he decided to work towards a dual college fellowship with both ACRRM and the RACGP, opting for both metropolitan and rural placements because it delivered an interesting case mix, opportunity to work in communities across Australia and have a meaningful impact on patients’ lives.

“Once I had experienced a rural placement, I knew that I wanted to keep working in rural locations, where I believe there is a strong sense of community and identity,” John said. “For me, general practice is about understanding and targeting the root cause of preventable illness to create healthier citizens, it is also about developing a more holistic health system that focuses on preventing illness with healthier lifestyles.”

This ethos has been applied to John’s charity Fair Game, which collects and distributes recycled sports equipment to people in need in order to encourage fitness and wellness activities.

John, who has a long history of volunteer work with local, national and international initiatives in medicine and community development, first conceived of the idea for the charity during a placement in the Pilbara after he saw a group of Indigenous children kicking a tin can around the dusty oval. To meet the need for sports equipment and to encourage active lifestyles, he began to collect used sports equipment and deliver it to remote rural locations in northern Western Australia.

Today, Fair Game has donated more than 20,000 items of recycled equipment to migrant and Indigenous communities and developed a mentoring program to inspire change through fitness, capacity-building and health education programs.