Medical Milestones with Dr Anthony Murray
Jennifer Swaine meets the inspiring local surgeon dedicated to improving lives and giving back.
Dr Anthony Murray could work anywhere in the world such are his specialist orthopaedic surgical skills. A proud Aboriginal Dharug man, he is the first indigenous person to become an Orthopaedic Surgeon in Australia.
Not a lot of thought was given to his family heritage until, at the age of 10, Anthony’s father was united with his extended family and his indigenous background was revealed.
“Initially the news came as a shock because I had the beginnings of my understanding of self and identity,” Anthony said.
“Getting to know our heritage was important to my family and so, over time, we learnt all we could about our culture and history that came from dad’s side of the family.
“In hindsight, there was certainly a piece of me that was missing – I just didn’t know it at the time.”
A fledgling career in football was sidelined when his dreams of playing professionally were destroyed in a mid-match knee injury. Subsequently, Anthony set his sights on following in the footsteps of the orthopaedic surgeons who aided his recovery.
While studying medicine at James Cook University, Anthony participated in programs to enhance Indigenous student numbers in healthcare.
“I desired to assist in increasing Indigenous student numbers across the board in healthcare as a career,” he said.
“We created a travelling road show visiting schools from Rockhampton to Townsville to educate and encourage Indigenous students throughout Queensland to consider a career in health.
“Many indigenous students, particularly boys, are keen to pursue careers in football not only because they excel at the sport but because the football clubs are very good at promoting the sport in these regional areas.
“They often don’t consider medicine or health because it simply isn’t talked about or visible to them – these roadshows helped to bridge that gap.”
So passionate is Anthony about ensuring healthcare is accessible to those who need it, he sits on the Australian Orthopaedic Association Cultural Inclusion Working Group that aims to identify and work towards removing barriers to the provision of equitable healthcare.
He is also on the Royal Australian College of Surgeons Indigenous Health Committee that addresses barriers to Indigenous healthcare across Australia; and he also provides free surgical care to Indigenous youth as part of his Sporting Chance Foundation.
So, how does such an experienced and qualified surgeon end up on the Sunshine Coast when he could work anywhere in the world?
“My wife’s family lives on the Sunshine Coast and being Queenslanders, our plan was always to relocate here with our young family,” he said. “We wanted to be more connected to our family, but also wanted a place to call home – where we could have a balanced lifestyle and where I could really get to know the community I work in.
“We found a wonderful farm in the Noosa Hinterland which is perfect as I provide care to patients from Noosa and the Sunshine Coast.”
Using advanced techniques and the latest technology, Anthony specialises in anterior approach hip replacements, knee replacement surgery using robotics and augmented reality with 3D printing, arthroscopic knee surgery, and orthopaedic trauma surgery.
He says while he is skilled in surgery, communication with his patients is key to excellent outcomes.
“I pride myself on really taking the time with each patient to ensure they understand their condition and what is going on with their body,” he said.
“It’s critical for individuals to know what their options are for treatment, whether that be non-surgical or surgical, and for patients and their family to be involved in making those decisions.
“For many patients, particularly the elderly, the prospect of facing surgery is daunting, so providing reassurance and explaining things in such a way they can process is incredibly important.”
In a world where we are all busy and time is money, there is a new generation of talent that is making their mark on the world and doing things their way – Dr. Anthony Murray is one of them and we now get to claim this talented surgeon as one of our own.