“Doctors wanted! Come to Australia!”: Dr Reddy retires after providing 50 years of medical service

With the lure of an additional $20 incentive, Dr Reddy made the long plane journey from India to Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia and has recently retired after 50 years of medical service.

In the early 1970s, Dr Sanganakal Reddy, MBBS, FRACGP, saw an advertisement: “Doctors wanted! Come to Australia!” So, with the lure of an additional $20 incentive, Dr Reddy made the long plane journey from India to Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia.

Dr Reddy was one of the first people from his village to go to a university, and specifically to get a medical degree.

In Australia, he commenced work at the then Royal Newcastle Hospital where there were only a handful of Indians in town. A year later, Dr Reddy was joined by his wife and son, Praveen Reddy, and soon the family moved to Melbourne.

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Image source: Praveen Reddy – Executive Director, Freight Victoria at Department of Transport – LinkedIn.

In Melbourne, Dr Reddy ran two private practices: one in Coburg (morning to late afternoon) and the second in Craigieburn (evening to late at night).

Reminiscing about those years, Praveen, who is Executive Director, Freight Victoria at Department of Transport, shared a post on LinkedIn:

“we didn’t get to see much of him in those years. My mum with the support of a growing Indian community and a welcoming Australian community supported dad and took care of my sister and I while dad worked long hours.”

Praveen notes that the first hurdle for his dad was obviously to understand the Aussie slang and phrases such as: “I am feeling a bit crook”; “I’ve had the runs really badly”; and “I have a bun in the oven.”

Dr Reddy eventually decided to focus on just Coburg practice and while working, he not only learnt Australian colloquialisms but also common phrases in Italian, Greek, Turkish, Lebanese and various other subcontinental dialects thus making his patients feel at home.

According to Praveen, this reflected the growing multiculturalism in the Moreland City Council through the 70s and beyond. Here, Dr Reddy not only treated some patients for free but also helped train young migrant doctors.

“Dad treated many immigrants for free, has been the physician of choice for three to four generations of longstanding patient families, only booked one consultation where families of around five to six came to see him, trained young migrant doctors and also until recently still did house calls as he was concerned about patients who were not able to get to the doctor.”

Recently, Dr Reddy retired at the age of 80 years old after spending 50 years in service – from Royal Newcastle Hospital to years in solo and group practice providing medical services to the community.

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Praveen says that he has learnt a few valuable lessons from his dad’s journey in Australia:

“1. The importance of hard work and sacrifice for family; 2. Community matters; 3. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity; and 4. Being driven by your heart and showing generosity is the greatest gift you can give (many of dad’s patients waited for two to three hours to each say goodbye to him over the last couple of weeks).”

Praveen adds, “if you ever bump into my Dr Reddy, don’t be surprised if he greets you with a “G’day mate!” He has become such an Aussie!”