Life-changing decision leads to top honour for CQ woman
ABOUT 39 years ago, Central Queensland woman Anne Chater made the life-changing decision to move from Brisbane up north to the small outback town of Theodore, where her husband Bruce had secured work as a doctor.
Starting her journey in the outback as a young mother and partner of a rural doctor, Mrs Chater didn't know what to expect.
With a burning desire to help other partners of rural doctors receive the support and recognition they deserved, she helped found the Queensland Rural Medical Families Network.
"I wanted to make sure that anyone coming to rural areas had the opportunity to be well briefed and orientated in what to expect when living in rural towns," she said.
"When I came to Theodore, I sort of just landed here and didn't know what to expect, being the partner of a rural doctor.
"Helping other partners of rural doctors was something I could do. It was where I could make a difference."
The 63-year-old said her work with the Queensland Rural Medical Families Network and Isolated Children's Parent Association, of which she was also a member, was to ensure children had the same access to education and families had the same access to health services as people in larger cities.
"Everyone deserves a fair go, to be well looked after and have access to the same services," she said.
"Just because you live in a rural area, that doesn't make you a second-class citizen.
"I have tried to look for opportunities to make sure that doesn't happen."
In 2004 she was awarded a Rural Doctors Association Queensland Medal of Service for her services to rural families through her work with the Queensland Rural Medical Family Network.
She was recognised again in 2008 by the Queensland Rural Medical Family Network itself, taking home the Backbone of the Bush Award.
To this day, Mrs Chater continues to work alongside her husband as practice manager at Theodore Medical, as well as a support teacher at Theodore State School.
She has held both positions since 1981.
She has also been part of many other organisations in Theodore, including Theodore Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture, Theodore Agricultural Show Society, Rotary Club of Theodore and the Theodore Sub-Branch RSL.
In 2012, she received an Award of Distinction from the Australian Medical Association of Queensland for the work she did to get Theodore Medical back up and running following the 2010 floods.
"We lost our surgery; it had 1.2m of water through it," she said.
"We didn't think we would be able to use it as a surgery again."
In 2019, she was awarded Practice Manager of Year by Australian Association of Practice Management, Queensland.
She said the award took her by surprise.
"It shows that you can have a very successful thriving practice in a small rural town," she said.
"Rural can do it too."
This year, Mrs Chater has received one of the most prestigious awards in the nation. She has received an Order of Australia Medal for her service to the community of Theodore.
She said when she first saw the email, she double checked the address because she thought it was a scam.
"It wasn't something I was expecting, it caught me by surprise," she said.
"There are a lot of people in rural areas who do what I do, I don't think I am anything special.
"I am overwhelmed and very fortunate to receive an Order of Australia Medal. I hope people in Theodore know they can share that.
"It is because of the wonderful people who live in Theodore and support this town that I have been able to do so much and be part of the community."