Bringing Associations Together To Boost Performance


Scott Willis elected as 22nd president of Australian Physiotherapy Association

The young man had grown up in a low socio-economic area in Sydney's west, attending public schools in Mount Druitt and Rooty Hill.

"I'd never even heard of physio ... and then did my knee ... and had to have some physio before and after surgery," he said.

The small taste set him off on an unexpected life path, taking him to university in Sydney and eventually bringing him to the North-West Coast.

"When I graduated there was hardly any jobs, they had cut the health budget significantly," he said.

"I saw this little ad, 'physios wanted in Tasmania', and so I rang them and pretty much they said, 'when can you start?' And I said oh, ok, give me a few weeks to sort my life out.

"And then I came down here, fell in love with it, met my wife."

It's been 27 years since then, and Mr Willis now works at the small private practice he helped found, Coastal Physiotherapy, as well as consulting work through the Somerset Medical Centre.

But his most recent achievement - being appointed the 22nd national president of the Australian Physiotherapy Association - is perhaps his biggest move yet.

"I'm really excited and honoured and humbled," he said.

"Coming from Western Sydney and the back ground of that, from a public school and being indigenous, and also working now in a rural area in a private practice in a small business ... I think that just says that anything is possible," he said.

Mr Willis will take the reigns from January 2021, making him the second Tasmanian president in 110 years, and the very first indigenous president.

He said he was particularly proud to bring an aboriginal perspective in an effort to help close the health gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people.

"My ancestors are from Sydney, but I identify as a palawa man," he said.

"I've lived here a majority of my life now ... My connection to the land is here, not in Sydney. This is my people."


One of the things Mr Willis is looking forward to in his new role is being able to push for change in Tasmania and, in particular, the North-West.

"It's always hard to attract physios to Tasmania," he said

"It always has been, and it will until we get a clinical school here that offers physio here for local people. We've all got to go to the mainland ... you can't do it at UTAS at the moment."

He said he had dreams of a school for the Coast to help attract locals into physiotherapy.

"I'm working with UTAS as well locally to assist that transition and hopefully get that happening, because in any rural area in Australia it's really hard to attract any kind of health professional, especially physiotherapy," he said.

"We've got to wait for someone here to do it and then come back ... and that's not happening a lot. They probably go over to the mainland and then they stay."

Taken from The Advocate article by Meg Powell October 2020.

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